Plans to add a second monument at Freedom Park in Westminster, California, where a tribute to fallen and imprisoned soldiers who served during the Vietnam War for the United States and the Army Republic of Vietnam already exists, was unanimously approved by the City of Westminster City Council Dec. 9.
Sid Goldstein Freedom Park features two 11-foot soldiers cast in bronze, one of an American and one of a South Vietnamese Soldier, and was built to represent the cooperation between the two countries during the Vietnam War. However, there has been opposition to adding any more monuments to the park as expressed during public session prior to the 5-0 city council vote.
Vietnam War veteran Robert Harrison, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and co-leads several veterans-related groups, told those attending the meeting via live stream that the existing Vietnam War Memorial is “a holy place, a sanctuary,” where the memories of more than 58,000 American soldiers and more than 300,000 South Vietnamese soldiers who perished are honored.
“All these additional monuments and proposals for a museum and visitor center would commercialize this site and take away from the essence of the Vietnam War Memorial,” Harrison said. “We have nothing against these monuments, the sacrifices of those who lived through these battles, but Goldstein Park should not be their place. The city should find another location for them.”
He added, “A lot of American Vietnam veterans and South Vietnamese veterans we meet with and talk [with] feel [the same] way. How many more monuments are you going to build and take away from the essence of that original Vietnam War Memorial?”
Westminster resident Jodi Boyd, who also spoke during public comments, said she opposed any more monuments at the park and that any proposals should be considered during city planning discussions.
“I’m very sorry, but no matter how many monuments we want to put there it’s not going to bring back one life,” Boyd said. “Every square foot of ground that a monument takes is not going to bring back a square foot of ground in Vietnam, or South Vietnam. So let’s come together as a community and put this as an item on our 5-year plan for our parks and our park beautification programs and move forward that way.”
The proposed memorial, named the “Retaken of the Historic Quang Tri Citadel Commemorative Monument,” will be sponsored by the non-profit Quang Tri Victory Foundation. It is estimated to cost about $125,000, with no city funds being used, according to the city’s website.
The proposed monument would consist of three concrete-finished panels, one about 10 feet tall and the other two about 7 feet tall. It would feature a bas relief (made of bronze, plaster, or color photo imprint) of a historic scene as well as a circled insignia representing a map of Vietnam and a bronze plaque outlining the history and significance of the battle.
The monument is to honor the Army Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. military for “providing crucial advice and air support at the Second Battle of Quang Tri during the Easter Offensive that ended with defeat of North Vietnamese communist forces at the Citadel of Quang Tri and the recapture of its province, the council stated in its staff report.
“I strongly believe that this project will help future generations to understand the contributions made and the sheer fight for freedom and democracy,” said Mayor Tri Ta before the vote. “For me, this is a part of history. This location is the only one that’s really meaningful, where we have a beautiful monument to honor the sacrifice.”