Monday evening's wet weather made the 30th anniversary celebration of the Korea-Vietnam Memorial's Nov. 12, 1988, dedication an almost mirror-like experience from three decades ago.
About 23 members of the Vietnam Veterans of America-Texarkana Area Chapter #278 braved not only the rain, but also the cold night air to commemorate the memorial's construction and dedication 30 years ago to the day, at West Seventh Street and North State Line Avenue.
Somewhat similar to 30 years ago, the memorial's dedication took place during severe inclement weather.
"Thirty years ago, the rain came through like a monsoon type storm," said VVA Chapter #278 President Greg Beck. "About 250 of us showed up that day."
Beck then gave a brief summary about how the memorial came into being.
"About 28 of us worked on it, and of that number, only about five of us are still here," he said. "By the time there's a 50th anniversary, I don't think any of us will still be around. The average age of today's Vietnam veteran is 72 years old."
Beck said that the actual work on the memorial started in 1983 when some of the two cities' leaders started plans to build it. However, by 1988, work on the project slowed down until the task was handed over to the VVA #278 by the middle of that year. By July 27, 1988, a ground-breaking was achieved and by Nov. 12, 1988, the dedication took place—despite the heavy rain.
During the last 30 years, the VVA #278 has added 22 military veterans' names to the memorial as well as provided updates on the status of eight whose remains have since been returned home. These would be the remains of local and area veterans who were previously classified as either prisoners of war or missing in action.
"Presently, we still have the names for 43 veterans on this Memorial's wall—36 of them from the Korean War and the rest from Vietnam," Beck said.
All 43 of these veterans, still classified as either POWs or MIAs, are from the Four States Area.
During the last three decades, the memorial has served as a site for Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations and POW-MIA commemorations, as well as for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War commemorative services, flag services and Support the Troops rallies.
Since its 1988 dedication, a Law Enforcement Memorial has also been added.