News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 4, 2012

Veterans monument rededication set for Saturday

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana’s Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, will be the keynote speaker Saturday morning during a rededication ceremony of a monument honoring Vietnam War veterans.

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. at the Vigo County Veterans Memorial Plaza at the Vigo County Courthouse. The plaza faces east on Third Street in Terre Haute.

Col. Don Bonte, commander of the 181st Intelligence Wing in Terre Haute, will introduce Umbarger as the feature speaker.

Vigo County Commissioner Paul Mason and Patrick R. Ralston, vice president of business and economic development government relations at First Financial Bank, both Vietnam veterans, also will speak at the ceremony.

Mason and Ralston spearheaded a campaign this year to raise $20,000 to move the monument. The effort raised $18,000, the cost of a bid from Adams Memorials of Charleston, Ill., which relocated the monument 100 feet to the east from the south side of the courthouse.

Any additional donations will be used for maintenance of the Veterans Plaza, Mason said.

Ralston said he recognizes that the ceremony will be done during Indiana State University’s Homecoming Parade “but this was the only time this month that the general could come over due to his hectic schedule. Twenty-seven men from Vigo County died in Vietnam and this is to honor them. Vietnam veterans were not treated very well at all [returning from the war] and this is a nice chance to thank them for their service,” Ralston said.

Also, David Hay, a retired dentist from Rosedale and graduate of former Wiley High School, will recite a poem, “The Wall,” he wrote. Mason said a plaque of the poem will be set on a pole near the relocated Vietnam Memorial as part of the ceremony.

The Vietnam Memorial is a 10-foot tall, 24-foot long limestone monument designed by Terre Haute native Robert Cotty Jr., who served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. It portrays an American soldier and the outline of Vietnam. The initial ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial took place June 3, 1988.

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 during the war.

The Vigo County Veterans Memorial Plaza was dedicated May 30, 2003, to honor all veterans.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.