Austin.- Almost half a century later, Texas is making up for lost time. On March 24, after years of planning, Vietnam veteran heroes, their families, friends, civic leaders and elected officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Texas Capitol Vietnam Veteran’s memorial to honor those who fought and died in that war. Photo: Juan Medrano, Jesse Castillo, Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Jim Cisneros, Gil Herrera, Henry Rodriguez and Arturo Gamez gather at the capitol in Austin for the reading of the names of Texas soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. Many were from San Antonio’s Edgewood District. (Photo by Louis Cisneros)
By Angela Covo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Close to 60,000 Americans died fighting the Vietnam War, and on a chilly Sunday in Austin, 120 volunteers spent the day remembering and reading the names of the 3,417 Texans who sacrificed their lives serving their country in Vietnam at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library auditorium to a crowd of hundreds.
Later that day, the Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit, with its 3,417 hand-stamped dog tags honoring each Texan who died in the war, opened in the Great Hall of the LBJ Library. Each fallen hero will be individually remembered by the entombment of the hand-stamped personalized dog tags bearing soldiers’ names, ranks, branches of service, hometowns and the date they died in service
The actual Groundbreaking Ceremony took place the following day at the Texas Capitol Grounds and the tags, carefully crafted one by one by U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veterans Don Dorsey and James Hart, were dedicated for entombment during that ceremony.
Joseph Lee "Joe" Galloway, a retired newspaper correspondent and columnist from Texas, was the keynote speaker. Galloway was awarded a Bronze Star for carrying wounded men to safety during his tenure covering the Vietnam War.
The journalist remarked that the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument honoring all Texans who served in the Vietnam War was long overdue.
“It’s been a long absent welcome back,” Galloway said. “The purpose of the commemoration is really to encourage hometowns across America to go all out to welcome Vietnam veterans – the welcome they didn’t get 50 years ago.”
“Thank you for the memorial. Thank you for the money. You paid for our fallen brothers,” Galloway added.
San Antonian Jim Cisneros, whose brother Roy Cisneros was posthumously awarded the Texas Legislature Medal of Honor in Sept. 2011, agrees.
“This is one of the greatest things that has happened for Vietnam Vets everywhere, and to think it’s in our great state of Texas. We lost 3,417 Texas heroes in that engagement. This was something that needed to be done – to honor and remember them – for quite some time,” Cisneros said.
Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon Johnson, was one of the volunteers and honored the Cisneros family when she read the name of Marine Cpl. Roy Cisneros, who sacrificed his life serving his country at the age of 19.
The young Marine, born and raised in San Antonio’s Edgewood district, was also posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism while serving as a Squad Leader with Company B, First Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Republic of Vietnam on 11 September 1968.”
The monument honoring our Vietnam Vets and fallen heroes should be in place and ready to dedicate by November. Visit www.buildthemonument.org for more information.