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Archive for Sunday, July 19, 2009

Opposing sides to look at new plan for Vietnamese war memorial

July 19, 2009

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— Groups debating the construction of a Vietnamese war memorial in Wichita’s Veterans Memorial Park are evaluating a compromise plan to erect it near the park.

The memorial would include a sculpture of two soldiers — one American and the other South Vietnamese — from the Vietnam War.

Critics have argued the park already has a Vietnam War memorial, and the park is meant for veterans of the U.S. military.

The Kansas Veterans Action Committee plans to meet today.

The Vietnamese Community of Wichita has raised money for the memorial to honor soldiers who fought with the United States against North Vietnam in the Vietnam War.

Opponents of the Vietnamese memorial, including some U.S. veterans, argue that South Vietnam and its flag are no longer recognized.

About 8,000 people with Vietnamese origins live in Wichita.

Supporters argue many South Vietnamese joined forces with U.S. soldiers during the war, and their efforts should be recognized. The war ended in 1975 when North Vietnamese forces overran Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam.

The two groups worked with city leaders, who delayed a decision earlier this month, on the plan.

Both sides told The Wichita Eagle that the proposal has positive points.

Qui Nguyen of the Vietnamese Community of Wichita said the compromise is OK “because we don’t want people to feel uncomfortable.”

The compromise would include landscaping to block views of the new memorial from the park. The city also would agree to help the park create a master plan for future development and designate the park for those who served in the U.S. military.

John Wilson, of the Veterans Action Committee, said the compromise will create rules for the park that should have already been established.

“The Vietnamese were just looking for a place to put their memorial, and we were just looking to keep the park unique for veterans of the United States Armed Forces.”

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