TERRE HAUTE —
Work to move a Vietnam War memorial 100 feet east and be included in the Vigo County Veterans Memorial Plaza in front of the county courthouse is slated to start next week.
Vigo County Commissioner Paul Mason and Patrick R. Ralston, vice president of business & economic development, government relations at First Financial Bank in Terre Haute — both of whom are Vietnam veterans — have been working on moving the memorial for several years.
In 2008, a much more ambitious project was conceived to raise $200,000 to create an elaborate new Vietnam memorial with a “V” shaped sidewalk and a three-sided granite fountain. That project became financially unrealistic.
Mason and Ralston earlier this year spearheaded a campaign to raise $20,000 just to move the memorial 100 feet to the east so it could Third Street. The memorial currently faces Ohio Street.
“We are close enough that we are giving the go-ahead and get it started,” Mason said.
The effort has raised $16,000 and has pledges that will raise additional money, Mason said. Adams Memorials of Charleston, Ill., will move the limestone memorial for $18,000, Mason said.
“You look at how nice the Veterans Plaza looks, and then you look around the corner and see the Vietnam Memorial,” Mason said. “You see it just standing there by itself. It should be in the plaza so it can be properly recognized like the other veterans,” Mason said.
The Veterans Memorial Plaza, which faces Third Street, was dedicated May 30, 2003, to honor all veterans. Ralston said he was part of a committee that worked to erect the current Vietnam Memorial. A ground-breaking ceremony for that memorial took place June 3, 1988.
The Vietnam Memorial is a 10-foot tall, 24-foot long limestone monument designed by Terre Haute native Robert Crotty Jr., who served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. It portrays an American soldier and the outline of Vietnam.
A bronze plate was attached to the memorial and dedicated May 27, 1996, to honor and list the names of 27 men from Vigo County who gave their lives from 1965 to 1972.
“I think the way Vietnam veterans were treated was not very good, and I know when I came into Oakland [Calif.] I was told to put on civilian clothes, if we had them, because we could get spit on or attacked, which was a shock to me, but I had been out of the country for 12 months,” Ralston said
“The Vietnam War has been kinda forgot about and this memorial has been forgotten because where it was placed,” Ralston said.
“There are 27 Vigo County heroes listed on that memorial who should never be forgotten, along with the other veterans who paid the ultimate price for their country,” Ralston said.
Moving the memorial, Ralston said, “is a little thing, but means a lot to many people.”
Donations for the memorial can now be made online at ghsspirit.spiritof7-6.com by clicking on “The Wall and Our Classmates.” Mason said funds raised that exceed the cost of moving the memorial will be used for landscaping and flags.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached
at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger @tribstar.com.