By Stephen E. Lipken
A 6-foot high, black granite memorial to all Vietnam veterans, crafted by Domenick DeNigris Monuments, Inc., Bronx, NY gracing the front lawn of New Rochelle City Hall was dedicated on Tuesday, May 30, attended by approximately 250 citizens from New Rochelle and surrounding communities.
Etched on the Monument is a depiction of the soldiers’ statue fronting the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with the slogan, “All Gave Some-- Some Gave All.”
The program began with remarks from Peter M. Parente, President, United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association (UVM&PA) and Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 439. “I would like to say one thing to all our Vietnam Veterans — welcome home…,” Parente began.
“We do have a monument on the other side of the sidewalk to those killed in Vietnam, Korea and World War II but we did not have a monument honoring all veterans from Vietnam.
“We thought that it would be a wonderful thing if we could do that in New Rochelle…We started a fund-raising campaign, hoping to raise around $15,000 to give us a good boost, but I am proud to say that we raised over $22,000, a wonderful surprise…”
“I think that we all understand that the Vietnam War was among the most divisive conflicts in American history,” Mayor Noam Bramson stated. “To this day there are profound disagreements about the wisdom, the nature and the conduct of the war. And that is okay, because in a democracy we are not ashamed to disagree about policy in war or peace. But one thing that there should be no disagreement about is the profound sacrifices of the men and women who served in Vietnam…”
Parente continued by urging the Mayor to work with the veterans in saving the Armory. “We have over 300 dead from New Rochelle that never came home . . .”
A very moving and emotional reading of the names of the KIA New Rochelle Vets were read by Vietnam Vets James and Kevin Lasser, James Mecca, Frank McDonough, Dennis Starr, Ron Tocci, Patrick Joyce, Tom O'Keefe and Paul Kearns. Almost all of the Vets read the name of a lost best friend or classmate.
Parente shared, “Less than a year ago, these vets came to me to let me know that they’ve wanted this for a long time. As a Veteran myself, I felt their pain. This monument will not erase the horror they experienced overseas, but it sure will remind the rest of us of their service and sacrifice every day. God Bless our Vietnam Vets.”
Keynote Speaker U.S. Army Major General Richard Colt (retired) pointed out that the 2.7 million who served in Vietnam represented 10% of the American population. “Of the 58,282 killed in Vietnam, eight were Army nurses…; 70% of those who died were volunteers.”