The Cumberland County Commission approved placing two new monuments at the county’s Memorial Park, one to honor Gold Star families and another to honor veterans of the Vietnam War.
But one commissioner wants the proposed design for the Vietnam memorial revised after seeing a mock-up of an inscription that read “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Ever Abandon Another.”
“I object to that phrase,” said John Patterson, 9th District commissioner. “I was there. We didn’t abandon anyone.”
The Vietnam Memorial is proposed by the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. During a presentation to the building and grounds committee in December, representatives said the monument would include a medallion for each branch of the U.S. military and the POW/MIA symbol, recognizing the men and women who served during the Vietnam era.
It is also to include an inscription that the memorial is “Dedicated to all who served during the Vietnam War and a solemn tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice.”
The inscription Patterson references is taken from the VVA founding principle. It references what many veterans of the Vietnam era felt was a failure of other organizations to advocate for the needs of Vietnam veterans, including health care access, identification of injuries and illnesses tied to military service and a full accounting of America’s prisoners or war or missing in action personnel.
Instead, Patterson suggested using the inscription stating “All Gave Some, Some Gave All,” as pictured in a photo used to show the placement of the memorial at the park — diagonally from the large monument noting the county’s war casualties from World War I through Vietnam War and the Post-9/11 Memorial.
The Gold Star Family memorial will honor those families who lost a loved one during a time of conflict.
This monument is being planned by John Conor, who also heads up the annual veterans parade held in November.
It is to be placed parallel to Fourth St. behind the current monuments.
Both are to be built with private funding and donations under the supervision of the Cumberland County Veterans Assistance Council.
The council includes representatives of 11 veterans service organizations and primarily oversees distribution of funds to veterans in need of charitable assistance. However, it also oversees Memorial Park on behalf of the county.
David Gibson, 4th District commissioner, moved to approve the monuments as presented, supported by Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner.
Following Patterson’s comment, Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner, said, “We are thankful for all of our veterans. The veterans of Vietnam should have been recognized, and they may have felt one generation abandoned another.”
A representative of the VVA chapter was not present at the meeting.
Stone asked if the matter could be deferred to get more information. Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster said the groups are both raising money at this time in hopes of having the memorials ready for Memorial Day in May.
Patterson asked to approve the memorials with his requested change in wording, supported by Joe Sherrill, 6th District commissioner.
Gibson and Hyder both agreed to the amendment to their original motion.
The revised motion was unanimously approved. Foster said he would communicate the change to the VVA chapter.
“They expect this to be an interactive process,” Foster said.
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