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'To Free the Oppressed'
Green Beret Crest

Symbol #1 - Honor and Patriotism are feelings evoked by the 10-foot high granite map of Vietnam. Repetitive images bring memories of deployment and involvement with local Vietnamese of jungle, rice paddy and watery marsh then the reality of war death and prayer.

Overall is the official remembrance of POW*MIAs 'You are not forgotten'. Our captured boys endured brutal captivity, torture, and often solitary confinement for years at prison sites within Hanoi. As swarms of incoming helicopters approach, two young soldiers, American and South Vietnamese, gaze upward to the Flag.

VietnamSymbol #2 - Homage to the Huey the workhorse and symbol of the Vietnam War. Transporting troops, supplies and evacuating wounded, the UH-1 was also assault ship or attack gunship. Moving as forward scouts like 19th century horse cavalry, Air Cavalry was helicopter-borne.

Symbol #3 - A tripod with three M-16s sprouting daisies The M-16 was standard issue in Vietnam, and the daisies reflect simple hope for peace.

Symbol #4 - An Army Nurse comforts and administers aid to a wounded Marine Sculpted and entwined in banana leaves, they become part of dense landscape. Hidden in leaves two Medics or Hospital Corpsmen give field aid. As an evacuation helicopter takes off the Navy hospital ship 'Repose' beacons in the distance.

Symbol #5 - The set for the Monument is the ruin of a Temple its three doors rich in meaning from Buddhism's 3000-year history in Vietnam. The general destruction of the site exudes the reality of war.

VietnamWe'd seen it trimmed to fit the screen,
turbulent, green, digested.
Then we came to Nam ourselves,
imagining that now we'd see it all,
uncut, and comprehend.

Instead we found a beast
without a name the stealer of things.
Gary Tillery, USAF poet

Rounding the bend of the destroyed Temple, we encounter an Army Special Forces soldier ready for combat a dead comrade near his feet

Symbol #6 - A Green Beret highly trained in guerilla tactics and airborne qualified is wearing the Special Forces Tiger Stripe BDU-battle dress uniform. His fatigues are green blending with environment, and he is without helmet jungle movement needing to be swift and silent. No badge appears on his uniform. His boots are American, but may have Vietnamese soles again for safety in the bush. Our soldier carries an M-79-40mm Grenade Launcher - new in Vietnam - and a Colt 45 for personal protection. The Launcher was used for indirect fire, or firing many rounds like buckshot, or as a small mortar shooting in an arc over a hill. This Special Forces soldier is on patrol knowing he is in a 360-degree war there was no 'front-line' in Vietnam the enemy could be all around. His companions would have been two or three Green Berets, and several ARVN troops or Montagnards native mountain people.

Symbol #7 - The shell of a dead man is hard to perceive. His partial body remains, probably from mine or booby trap explosion, show war's inevitability. We leave the site with the taste of death the reality of war.


Lost boyA little boy in bronze freezes these last reflections He faces the shattered frame of a steel window it has been broken. Physically and metaphorically, he knows and faces his past. He carries with him precious remnants his father's uniform and dog tags. He is deeply proud. He will forever remember He will not forget.

The child gazes through another kind of window an imaginary view of the future. It is a vast view a thoughtful view envisioned for us as a field of flowers. Surely this garners hope. After walking the path of the 20th century, and feeling its sad and repetitive violence, one might feel that hope is rather dim. But it is just at this moment that hope itself becomes real and human.

WE AMERICANS cherish our deep commitment to freedom.
WE AMERICANS have fought hard battles for freedom.
WE AMERICANS hold out the hope to live in peace.

This Monument presents the little child as the threshold to the future. The youthful courageous spirit in all of us is called and challenged. The field of flowers has been named THE PEACE GARDEN. May all of us find a way to hope and plant that garden.



Empty that is one possible feeling arising out of combat and war. Our soldier is on his feet but the spirit is stolen. He is a silhouette in steel. His body is hollowed a gateway that others might go through. His emptiness is quiet ground ground for a transformational impetus, a higher plane. The answer must be more

At the soldier's feet is a mound of shoes, helmets and other reminders of lost friends spent in the vast endeavor. They are not known they are unknown a mark of all the unknown soldiers. And the memories of all the years and all the battles - however just or necessary - blow through. The answer must be more Could it be no more war? Peace but how?

One answer might be Quite simply Remember me.

Interview with Julie Rotblatt-Amrany
Interview with Steve J Pestikas, combat infantry veteran in Vietnam

All monument descriptions in the Memorial Gallery are written by Kathleen Van Ella.
Would you like to see additional pictures of work on the Memorial, click here.