The 4th of July is one of the best holidays in America. Picnics, barbecues, patriotic music; family and friends getting together to celebrate. Children, and many adults, impatiently wait all day for the sun to fade into the west for the anticipated fireworks display.

Our 4th of July traditions are rooted in the celebration of our independence and freedoms. In particular, the fireworks tradition represents the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air. The points of light in the sky from the aerial fireworks represent our country’s war dead. More than a million have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and for freedom around the world. The sounds of fireworks exploding represent the sounds of battle, symbolic of those wounded in the service of our country.

For those of us who never served in the military, or experienced combat conditions, these representations are what we can use to relate and understand the losses and sacrifices of those who did.

In essence, some of our 4th of July traditions are a type of memorial. Memorials do not have to be sad. Memorials are a celebration and remembrance. In celebrating and remembering, we are giving honor to those who served and sacrificed on our behalf. This is the value of memorials. Memorials of all types are important for all of us. To honor is a great and needed action.

More than 30 years ago, both California and Washington dedicated Vietnam War memorials on their capitol grounds. These two states extended the ultimate collective celebration and remembrance to their Vietnam veterans with these memorials. A state-authorized memorial is symbolic of extreme esteem.

Oregon has yet to do the same. One cannot find a state-authorized Vietnam War memorial on state property in the capital city of Salem. There is a memorial to every other war. We must follow the example of our neighboring states and not forget the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans. It is imperative to act as quickly as possible.

Today, it is forecast that our Vietnam veterans are passing at a rate of eight per day.

There is a group of Oregon citizens working to construct a Vietnam War memorial on the Capitol grounds. A proposed design is almost completed. Unfortunately, the recent Legislative session did not produce the needed permissions to erect this memorial.

It is estimated that the $2.5 million memorial could be completed in 2022, conditional upon the help of the Legislature in the 2020 legislative session and donors like you.

What better way to celebrate this 4th of July, but to have a helping hand in remembering and honoring Oregon’s Vietnam veterans. For more information, visit the Vietnam War Memorial Fund website at VietnamWarMemorialFund.org.

Steve Bates, of Boring, is chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance, a part of Associates of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He is also president of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund.

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