SUNY Schenectady County Community College will be home to a new Vietnam Veteran Memorial Park, an honor veterans and county officials said is long overdue.
“Through this memorial they will be giving us a welcome home that we didn’t receive when we returned home,” said William Frank, the county director of Veteran Affairs, who served for five months in Vietnam in the Army Finance Corps.
The project has been in the works since 2018 after Robert Becker, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War era, suggested the idea, said Legislator Holly Vellano, who represents Rotterdam, Princetown and Duanesburg.
“We have a lot of Vietnam veterans in the Capital Region,” Becker said.
Schenectady County alone is home to a couple of thousand Vietnam Veterans, he said.
The county picked SUNY Schenectady as the location because it was easily accessible and there was ample parking nearby for when people wanted to visit, Vellano said.
College President Steady Moono said it was an honor to have the site on the college campus.
“I come from the African tradition where memorials are important and critical and so, this memorial will remind our students that indeed freedom is not free,” Moono said.
Vietnam Memorial Committee members along with the county and county engineer helped design the site, Vellano said. The site will be made of granite, depict a map of both North and South Vietnam, the branches of service and it will feature an inscription honoring the veterans. She said they expect construction of the site to finish around Veterans Day after which a formal opening ceremony will take place.
The county earmarked $81,000 for the project, not including in-kind labor, Vellano said. The groundbreaking happen after it had to be put off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This new memorial is a small way for our county to not only honor and pay tribute to the men and women of Schenectady County who selflessly served during the Vietnam War but to respectfully remember 32 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, who represents Rotterdam, Princetown and Duanesburg.