Christmas 1968 – 55 Years Later, We Still Owe Our Vietnam Veterans a Debt of Gratitude

Bates Crop 2022a 700cm

By: Steve Bates

Christmas time in 1968 was very similar to this Christmas season. Except, every day on the 6 o’clock news, we saw images of the Vietnam War on our televisions. To our Vietnam Veterans, those images were reality. We called for pizza delivery and they called for medics. We learned of life, they learned of death. We served dinner, they served their country. Our passion was success, theirs was survival. It appears we have forgotten about the Vietnam War. They haven’t!

When the Vietnam Veterans came home, they were treated poorly. Instead of receiving our thanks and celebration of their service, they were confronted with hateful words. Many were physically attacked and others were spit upon. This was not America’s finest hour.

We must make amends for that time. We must revere our Vietnam Veterans. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

1968 was the year of the most US military casualties in Vietnam. Over 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975. Almost 800 of them were Oregonians. They deserve our remembrance for their sacrifice. Millions served during the Vietnam War era. They deserve our honor. That is what memorials do. They honor our warriors and remember the fallen.

Washington State placed a Vietnam War Memorial on their capitol grounds in the 1980’s.

California constructed a Vietnam War Memorial on their capitol grounds in the 1990’s.

With help from people like you, Oregon will have a Vietnam War Memorial on its capitol grounds in 2024.

Since 2017 a group of Oregon residents have been working to honor Oregon’s Vietnam Veterans with a Vietnam War Memorial on the Capitol Grounds. This memorial will be to the south of the World War II memorial. These two memorials together will remember about 75% of Oregon’s war dead. Many are not aware that the Vietnam War is second only to World War II for Oregon war casualties.

All of the permissions are in place for the Oregon Vietnam Veterans War Memorial at the Oregon Capitol. A ground breaking ceremony is being planned for the 50th Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29, 2024. Construction of Phase 1 of the memorial is tentatively scheduled to start on May 1, 2024.

The dates are tentative due to a budget shortfall. The Vietnam War Memorial Fund has started a campaign to raise the needed $435,000 to cover the Phase 1 budget deficit. Your help is needed. For more information, go to

Help us demonstrate to our Vietnam Veterans our debt of gratitude. Help us honor them with this memorial. Please contribute to the Bring It Home campaign to fund Phase 1 construction.

Contributions can be made by credit card on the website or by sending a check to:

Vietnam War Memorial Fund

P O Box 1448

Boring, Oregon 97009

About the author:

Steve Bates has resided in Boring for 46 years and is a Life Member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America and an Honorary Life Member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He serves as Chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance and President of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund. He can be reached at: