Bates: Vietnam Vets another year older, still without memorial
The United States of America Commemoration of the Vietnam War is currently ongoing. This national commemoration was authorized by Congress, established under the secretary of defense, and launched by the president during May 2012. It will continue through Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2025.
This program commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and recognizes all who served on active duty in the U. S. Armed Forces, regardless of location, during the period of Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, as a Vietnam Veteran.
While 2020 brings another year, our Vietnam Veterans are a year older and there is still not a Vietnam War Memorial in Oregon's capital city of Salem.
It has been said by several Oregonians that we have an urgent situation. Time is running out. The window of opportunity is slowly closing for the state of Oregon to honor its Vietnam Veterans while they are still with us.
During the 2020 legislative session, it is anticipated that a Senate Bill will be introduced which will establish a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds. Currently, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office are reviewing a proposed design for such a memorial.
During the Vietnam War era, over 9 million Americans served in the United States military. More than 2.7 million served in Vietnam, of which about 57,000 were Oregonians. It is estimated that a total of 180,000 from Oregon served during the Vietnam War era. Currently, it is estimated with data provided by the United States Census Bureau, about 100,000 Oregon Vietnam Veterans are alive today.
The average age of our Vietnam Veterans is now over 70. The Vietnam Veterans of America announced that the average age of their membership in 2019 was 72.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs published a report that forecast 14,000 Oregon Vietnam Veterans either have passed away or will die between 2015 and 2020 at a rate of 8 veterans per day.
It is inevitable that our Vietnam Veterans will leave us.
Vietnam Veteran and United Mine Workers of America International Union President Cecil E. Roberts made this statement in March 2019: "With an estimated 390 Vietnam Veterans passing each day, there will be few, if any, alive in 10 years."
The state of Oregon dedicated a beautiful World War II Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds on June 6, 2014. At that time, over 95% of all World War II veterans were gone already. It is important that a Vietnam Memorial be raised quickly.
The Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds is needed sooner rather than later.
You can see the proposed design at vietnamwarmemorialfund.org.
It is estimated that the proposed Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds will cost $2.7 million dollars. A non-profit corporation exists to raise these needed funds. The stated goal is to raise these funds from the private sector.
You can help. Call your state legislators and tell them you wish for them to pass the Vietnam War Memorial Senate Bill. You can also make a tax deductible donation to the cause.
Contributions can be made by credit card on the website or by sending a check or money order to: Vietnam War Memorial Fund, PO Box 1448, Boring, Oregon, 97009.
Another year has passed and, with your help, we are one year closer to honoring our Vietnam Veterans with a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds.
Steve Bates has resided in Boring for 42 years and is a Life Member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. He serves as chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance and president of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund.