Orange County Vietnam War Memorial
A decorated truck drove through Little Saigon over the Fourth of July weekend. The van, on the other hand, featured grainy photographs of three members of the Westminster City Council – their large, unsmiling faces reminiscent of mugshots.
The three had just approved a plan to put off the installation of a war memorial in Sid Goldstein Freedom Park in London. The monument, which would be the fourth erected in the park, would commemorate South Vietnamese soldiers’ victory over communist forces during the Battle of Quang Tri, which took place in 1971.
Last year, the council voted to approve the monument. However, what appeared to be a respectable remembrance of courageous resistance by South Vietnamese forces is now being challenged and characterized as divisive.
During a public hearing, six veterans spoke about the need for such a monument. One of them, John Skoyles, is an ex-staff sergeant who served during both World Wars and the Korean War. He stated that while he was honorably discharged in 1951 after 30 years of service, he never received any recognition or honors from his country.
Several monuments should not be placed at Freedom Park, according to residents of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Instead, they propose that the park’s main feature, a statue depicting American and South Vietnamese troops, should remain in place.
The Vietnamese can’t be more ecstatic about the memorial, but it does offer a chance to commemorate a significant win on their side in the war. Others may feel as I did when I first discovered what was going on: that this was an opportunity wasted, or at best, barely utilized.
“We were completely unaware of this project and unprepared,” former ARVN officer Chang Phong said at the special meeting on June 25. “We are not against this monument. “We don’t like the planned monument,” they explain. It’s just a drawing etched on a wall. Please cease and desist this project, and let us work out our differences together.”
A fourth monument should be built somewhere else, according to John “Jack” Harry. He said that a fourth memorial should be erected in another location than Freedom Park.
“The Freedom Park is a refuge for American and Vietnamese veterans of the war. Politicians continue to build monuments at the park, despite protests from defenders of liberty.”
However, many Vietnamese Americans in Orange County, CA support the monument. “There’s no reason to delay,” said Son Do. “The park has a lot of space. It will boost tourism in the city.”