By Steve Bates
Everybody has a legacy. Some legacies are greater than others. For example, each United States President has a legacy. Historians have identified those with the greatest legacies such as Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.
The Vietnam veterans also have a legacy. This includes serving their country with honor and integrity in an unpopular war; coming home to an ungrateful nation; experiencing lack of respect from the World War II and Korean War Veterans; being ignored by the government when unusual illnesses were identified.
Their legacy is also one of accomplishments. Vietnam veterans gathered and formed an organization to confront a government that failed to honor their service with appropriate medical attention and assistance. The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) was formed with the mission to make sure that no other generation of veterans will abandon another. The VVA joined with the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in pursuing legislation over the years that ensures our nation’s warriors receive the medical care and assistance they deserve.
Because of Vietnam veterans, our nation now honors and respects our military members more than ever. That is one of the greatest tenets of the legacy of our Vietnam veterans.
The youngest of Vietnam veterans are now 67. The oldest are over 100. Their average age is now 78. In 2019, it was estimated that as many as 8 Oregon Vietnam veterans were passing each day. In 2022, based upon the US Census Bureau’s 5 year estimate, it was determined that there were 105,565 Vietnam Combat and Vietnam Era veterans in Oregon. Over 180,000 Oregonians served during the Vietnam War. This means that over 40 percent of our Oregon Vietnam veterans are gone now.
It is important that we work quickly and with urgency to recognize the legacy of our Vietnam veterans, so that those who are still with us will know their collective legacy is revered and honored.
The legacy of these veterans must be preserved. How do we do that?
In our culture, memorials are erected to honor legacies. Building a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds will preserve and honor the legacy of our Vietnam veterans for generations to come.
The plans are in place and all the necessary permissions have been granted for this memorial.
You can see the plans on the memorial website: www.ocvvm.com
Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2024 provided funding for Phase 1 is secured. We are close, and you can help us reach our goal by making a contribution today. You can donate by credit card on the website, or, send a check to Vietnam War Memorial Fund – P O Box 1448 – Boring, Oregon 97009.
It is understood that there is an urgency to preserving the legacy of our Vietnam veterans. Completing Phase 1 of the memorial in 2024 will help address that urgency. Will you help us?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org