Sunday, July 24, 2011


The Colorado Vietnam memorial is in Pueblo, a couple of hours south of Denver. Located in a small park in the median of the road it lists the names of all 621 (the latest figure I can find) from the state who lost their lives in 'Nam. It also tells the story of the first American woman killed. In 1965 a bomb placed outside the American Embassy took her life. In addition there is a marker to the Medal of Honor awardee from the area. Interestingly, Pueblo boasts four MOH awardees and has a separate memorial elsewhere in the city. I may write more about that later.

Located at Elizabeth and 26th Streets the memorial also honors another of Pueblo's sons. A Marine killed in North Vietnam (presumably shot down) and buried in 1999 in Arlington. One makes the assumption that his remains were returned long after the war in the ongoing repatriation efforts between the US and Vietnam. Welcome home, brother.

This alone should be enough to say about this simple, yet elegant, memorial, but the story of how it came to be is, in my view, astonishing.

I often wonder why some memorials are placed where they are? Most seem to be on the grounds of, or near the Capitol, State House or some other government building. Once in a while however, they are in median strips far from the Capitol. Most of the time I am completely unsuccessful in tracking down the reasons for this, but in this case, the following story makes the answer obvious!

It seems a young man in Pueblo wanted to honor his buddies from 'Nam. No one took him too seriously. You see he was different. Some thought he might be handicapped. After all, he graduated from the local high school two years behind his peers. It took him three cycles to make it through boot camp! Many thought he might not be military material and certainly not Vietnam material.

Well, he ended up in 'Nam and literally slept with his M-16 every night while in-country. He, unlike many of his buddies, survived 'Nam. When he came home he was able to work at menial jobs, just like in 'Nam, but the nightmares and the memories and the fear eventually won out. He was finally designated as disabled with PTSD.

He began to work on building the memorial. He talked with many, raised money sitting outside a grocery store and over a period of time, years actually, managed to get it completed.

My long term readers know that I never use anyone's name in these posts. Too many legal issues, permissions etc, but I often direct you to another site with more info. I do so today. If you have never followed one of my suggested links before, I urge you to do so today. This story is compelling! There are lessons here too numerous to list about the human spirit and how we deal with each other as human beings and as brothers.

Please go to;

to learn more about this most unlikely hero!

Next, I move on to Denver and discover a story that involves lost memorials, Irish writers and just some plain old luck. Join me on the 29th for this remarkable tale.

No comments:

Post a Comment