KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A large crowd gathered at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial in World's Fair Park on Tuesday morning to dedicate a new monument in honor of Vietnam War veterans.
A group of veterans unveiled the new memorial to the public, which features the service seals of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard around the Republic of Vietnam Service Medal. Several messages, including "Welcome Home," are engraved on the memorial honoring the service of Vietnam veterans and the 671 East Tennesseans who died serving their country during the war.
"We were not welcomed home, and that sentiment is changing over the years. This is an acknowledgment of that and I know there are thousands of people that appreciate things like this that happen," Charlie Harr with the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial Association said.
The ceremony included a helicopter flyover from the Knox County Sheriff's Office. The Vietnam Veterans of America Captain Bill Robinson Chapter 1078 and other supporters helped fund the memorial.
"When people come, they will remember. And not just us, but our children and our grandchildren. And people who don't know anything about Vietnam will come and go, 'I wonder what that's about,'" said Pat Polis, president of VVA Chapter 1078. "It's not so much for this monument to help people to remember... it's so that those of us who served there won't be forgotten."