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november/december 2008

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Celebrating 20 Years:
The California Vietnam Veterans Memorial


20 years! Has it been that long? It seems like only yesterday that Vietnam veterans, their families, and friends joined citizens from all over California on December 10, 1988, in Sacramento for a bittersweet celebration—the dedication of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park. No one who was there will ever forget the remarks made by the late B.T. Collins, an Army Special Forces captain in Vietnam and the moving force behind the Memorial.

The Memorial is a beautiful and fitting tribute to California’s sons and daughters who lost their lives in the war in Southeast Asia. It consists of gray granite columns arranged in a circle, with outfacing black marble panels that bear the names of those who fell in the Vietnam War.
In 1988, we somberly gazed at the 5,822 names of California’s dead and missing in action, and remembered that long-ago bloody struggle half a world away. These are names of men and women we fought alongside, men and women we never had the opportunity to know.

We reflected on the Memorial inscription that reads, “All Gave Some. Some Gave All.” We, the living, came to honor our dead. “We will never forget,” we promised.

The VVA California State Council and the California Department of Veterans Affairs are hosting the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento, December 10-14.
The commemoration will begin with a reading of the names of Californians killed or missing in action during the Vietnam War. A film festival Wednesday evening, December 10, will screen two movies about the Vietnam War, Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam and We Were Soldiers.

The California State Council will host a dinner Friday night, December 12, honoring the members of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission who oversaw the development and building of the Memorial in 1988. The California legislators who enacted legislation sponsoring the construction also will be honored.

On Saturday, December 13, we will once again march through the streets of Sacramento and gather at the Memorial to pay tribute to the fallen of the Vietnam War and to help our veterans who still struggle. California Vietnam Medal of Honor awardees will be the Grand Marshals of the parade. A USO-type show will immediately follow on the State Capitol grounds.

VVA members across California are actively involved in planning and coordinating the events. VVA National Board Member Jerry Yamamoto chairs the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial 20th Anniversary Coordinating Council. Bob Johnston, Sr., president of the VVA California State Council, is the vice chair.

All Vietnam veterans, their families, and veterans of all generations are invited to attend this special event. Please join us December 10-14 in Sacramento at Capitol Park.

For more information, including schedules and hotel accommodations, go to:



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