Did you know that Fair Park is home to the official Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial?
Located at the intersection of First and Parry avenues, near the Automobile Building and the Music Hall, the memorial is part of what is known as Veterans Park. A lush, green area, Veterans Park is home to both the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a beautiful fountain, complete with angelic statues. Great care was put into constructing the memorial and the surrounding landscape. There are even Southeast Asian trees called Gingko Trees that line the path leading up to the memorial.
The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands as a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War, the longest military conflict in U.S. history. Former President George H. Bush dedicated the memorial in 1989. Five tablets of Texas granite bear the names of Texans killed or missing in action, including nine Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. A soothing waterfall flows alongside the memorial, which is familiarly known simply as, “The Wall.”
Recently we met with the board of the Friends of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial to talk about the history of the memorial and the important work they do in educating the public about the memorial – particularly the time they spend with fairgoers during Fair time.
“I guess you could call us guides,” said Bob Faulds, president of the Friends of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial and also a Vietnam veteran himself. “We answer any and all questions that people at the Fair have. We let them know what the memorial means to us, and there are a lot of unique stories that we get to share.”
All board members of The Friends of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial agree that each year they see an increase in fairgoers showing an interest in the memorial and wanting to visit with the veterans. Every day during the run of the Fair, the board commits to having Vietnam Veterans on the memorial site to talk with fairgoers and to pass out American Flag stickers that can be placed on the panels.
“Sometimes parents will bring their little kids up here. Kids are inquisitive about the memorial, of course,” said Harley Dale Brown, also a Vietnam veteran. “I’ll hand those kids a flag and tell them to find their birthday on the wall, and we’ll make them a friend. They’ll go find their birthday, put their flag next to a name, and we tell them that now they always have a friend they’re connected to.”
More than anything, these veterans hope to spread the word about the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial so that more people can come out to reflect on the meaning of such a place and pay their respects to fallen heroes.
“Come out and visit these guys,” said board member and Vietnam veteran Ron Sikes.
“They deserve all the respect you can give them.”
For more information on the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial visit The Friends of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Facebook page here.