An estimated 4500 people attended the dedication ceremony for the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument last Saturday. The monument is situated on the northeastern corner of the Capitol grounds. Five bronzed members of an infantry patrol are situated above relief panels representing all military branches. The base pedestal matches the distinctive red granite of the State Capitol building.
Many people spoke during the two-hour ceremony, including Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, state and military representatives, and members of the Monument committee. Several speakers noted that 41 years ago on this same date (March 29th) was when the last combat troops left Vietnam. U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson spoke of his experiences as a seven-year POW. Karoni Forrester, representing the National League of POW-MIA Families, talked about her MIA father. The crowd was filled with veterans who proudly cheered when the theme song of their branch was played by a military band.
I wasn’t close to the speaker’s platform during the morning ceremony, so that afternoon I walked back up to the Capitol to get a better look. Even hours later, veterans and their families were still lined up to take pictures in front of the monument. While admiring the statues, I found myself being introduced to Clint Howard and Jake Jurkovac from Deep in the Heart Art Foundry. They explained that they had overseen the bronzing and final sculpting for the monument.
Dog tags naming each of the 3,417 Texans who were killed or missing in action are entombed in the monument’s base. Inside the Capitol building, a duplicate set of dog tags was displayed as part of the Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit.
I’d highly recommend a visit to the State Capitol to see the new monument, a fitting tribute to Texas’ Vietnam War veterans.