The “Groundbreaking for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial” being built by the College o the Ozarks was held at noon on Thursday, December 18, 2014. Wednesday evening saw sleet and freezing rain covering the Ozarks and into the following morning, but in spite of the weather a large crowd gathered for the event.
Before the event while the crowd assembles.
Breaking the Ground
Point Lookout — Hundreds were in attendance Thursday morning at the College of the Ozarks as the school hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the its Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to be located on the Alumni Center Lawn.
“This memorial will be something different than the others because Vietnam veterans weren’t treated properly upon their return from war,” C of O President Jerry Davis said. “Such a memorial is long overdue and represents a proper tribute to those who served.”
During the ceremony, C of O alum and retired U.S. Marine Gen. Terrance R. Dake spoke to the hundreds who braved the cold and windy weather. Dake said he was asked to speak about what a memorial for the Vietnam veterans meant to the veterans themselves.
“My opinion is that a memorial for Vietnam veterans is different than a memorial for those warriors of other wars,” he said. “Vietnam was not a small war… and yet when these men and women came home, it wasn’t as other wars had it. There were no victory parades and they were not embraced by a grateful nation … and it seemed more often than it should have, there was a lukewarm return.
“In some cases, there were even heckling and demonstrations.”
Dake said he felt, due to that reception, there have been “shadows” for some veterans. He said ceremonies and memorials like one at C of O would help close that gap between the American people and the veterans.
“There will come a time when the ceremonies are all over, the dignitaries are all gone and the crowds have dispersed,” he said. “What will remain is this memorial, nestled here in the Ozark Mountains in the state of Missouri…
“When all that is done and it is quiet, it is then that this memorial will truly belong to the Vietnam veterans. It is my thought and hope that veterans of Vietnam will come here and approach this memorial in a reverent way to honor those who died, but also approach it with a sense of pride… A pride in themselves because this is a place where they are honored. There are no shadows or judgments here, only a place where veterans can come to stand proud.”
The memorial is based on an architectural rendering created by College of the Ozarks Alumnus Austin Meyer and will bear the names of 1,410 Missourians who served and died in the Vietnam War. C of O students and staff will build the structure, which is projected to be complete by April 2015.
“The wall of the memorial will be divided, much like the country was divided,” Davis said. “There will be 705 names on each wall. The names of the men and women who served and paid the ultimate price.”
C of O partnered with the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913, Bass Pro Shops and the PGA Champions Tour to make the memorial a reality. Funds for the project were donated due to C of O being named an official charity of the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf PGA Champions Tour, presented by Bass Pro Shops, earlier this year.
In May, Missouri legislators adopted Missouri Senate Concurrent Resolution 43, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, which made the memorial the official Vietnam War Memorial for the state of Missouri.
“We appreciate the generous gift from Bass Pro Shops which will be used to construct an appropriate memorial honoring those from Missouri who served and sacrificed on behalf of our nation.” Davis said.
Quite a full crowd for such an ill day.
Paul Frampton – Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars Official Representative.
Richard Baehr, Quartermaster Branson VFW Post 11290 (left) and Gerald Long, Commander Branson VFW Post 11290 (right)
Georg Andersen, member of Mtn Grove VFW Post 3770 (left) unknown member of Mtn Grove American Legion Post 30 (center) and Larry Mace, member of Mtn Grove VFW Post 3770 (right).
Virginia and Dewey Riehn of Columbia VFW Post 280. Comrade Riehn serves as Legislative Chairman for the Missouri VFW.
NEEDED is a contact person for each KIA, before the dedication each contact person whether it is a relative or friend will be notified prior to the dedication with an invitation to attend the dedication ceremonies . What I would like for you to do if you know of someone that lost their life in Vietnam please send me their contact information so they may be notified. You can mail it to me at 105 Southview Dr.. Branson Mo. 65616 or send me a email at email@example.com. Time is of the essence and the need is great.
Thank You for your help.
The Dept of Mo would like to thank the following members for providing photos of the event – Comrade Paul Frampton, Dept Inspector; Comrade James Thorpe, District 14 Commander; and Comrade Ronnie Inman of Mountain Grove VFW Post 3770.
More photos can be added if sent to the Dept of Mo Webmaster.