Utah, like all states I suppose, had people who backed or protested the war in Vietnam. These numbers like everywhere else ebbed and flowed with the news or politics of any particular day. It is interesting that on May 8, 1954, the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote a prophetic piece regarding the French failure at Dien Bien Phu. A French Cafe owner was quoted; "...they let our best soldiers get killed... (it was) not worth it!"
Utah contributed heavily to the war effort. 8.6% of her eligible citizens served making Utah the 5th most represented state. The national average was 6.9%. So, Utahans participated at a 25% higher rate than most and were behind only Alaska, Hawai'i, Washington, and Nevada. This is even more unusual because members of the LDS could get deferments for their missionary work, Utah had the highest college attendance rate in the country, and men tend to marry earlier in Utah than in other states. You may recall that married men were often not taken for service as readily as guys who were not married.
Like everyone else Utah eventually came to grips with the war and its aftermath and to welcome her sons and daughters home a beautiful memorial was built.
Honored here are the 388 men and one woman killed or who are still MIA.
The solder returning from some unnamed battle is carrying his buddy's rifle. He is surrounded by a curved, gray granite wall bearing, forever, the names of all the lost.
In 2012, Jan Scruggs asked the LDS to assist in gathering the pictures of all the lost men and women to be added to the new Education Center at The Wall. While many have been found, many more are still unavailable and it is hoped that the LDS will be able to contribute to the effort of honoring every name on The Wall. If you have pictures of any lost Vietnam vets, please contact contact the center here;
Next time we will visit a small memorial in a park in Mapleton, Utah. Join me, as always, on the 21st, at 9:00am.