Arts & Culture

A Guide To The Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial

May 24, 2011 3:07 PM

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With Memorial Day here, now is the perfect time to reflect on the sacrifices our service men and women have made to our country. The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County continue to keep the memories, sacrifices and selfless service these men and women give alive and active. The Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the many public displays of public gratitude to these brave men and women.

Remembering Those That Served

During the Vietnam War thousands of men and women from the county served our country and 105 gave their lives in the cause. They came from communities and cities such as Steele Creek, Huntersville, Myers Park, Mallard Creek, Mint Hill, the Westside, Matthews and all parts of Mecklenburg County.

The memorial is a 270-foot granite arc, composed of a historical timeline, a comprehensive view of a map of Southeast Asia during the war and the names of those from Mecklenburg County who died.

The Building of the Past, Present and Future

Location: The Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in Thompson Park near uptown Charlotte, NC at 1129 East Third Street.

History and Fundraising Efforts: During the Vietnam War thousands of men and women from Mecklenburg County served our country; 105 gave their lives to the war efforts. While the war was over in 1975 it was not until 1988 that local veterans, community leaders and citizens thought the time was right to build a memorial; thus, The Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee was appointed by county officials to guide the fundraising, design, construction and dedication of the memorial. The memorial was erected to honor those who served and those who died in the Vietnam War.
It is important to note that government funds were used to build the memorial. There was, however, $356,000 in donations was received from corporations, foundations, veterans groups, a telethon and individuals.More than $100,000 was contributed from in-kind donations of construction materials, services and support.

Design: A preliminary site was found in uptown Charlotte but it was later moved to the grounds of Thompson Park, home of the original Thompson Orphanage campus. Project architects Little and Associates designed a memorial that starts at ground level and gently rises to a height of seven feet following the slope of the land.The 270-foot granite arc stands among picturesque landscapes including oak trees and benches. The memorial panels include a timeline from 1959 to 1975 with an historical narrative of the war. Also included within the memorial are the President of the United States at the time of the war as well as excerpts of poems written by a local Vietnam veteran.Ground was broken for the project on Memorial Day 1989. The granite came from a quarry in Elberton, Georgia.

Dedication: In 1989, on Veterans Day, the memorial was dedicated. The event featured music by the Charlotte Oratorio Singers, instrumentalists and bagpipers. Comments were also made by elected officials at the time and
then later, the memorial was unveiled by Vietnam veterans and project supporters and viewed by hundreds in attendance.

Future of Memorial: Thompson Park and the memorial are adjacent to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Plans are underway to provide landscaped green space, walking and bicycle paths and other amenities from uptown Charlotte to Pineville.

Mecklenburg Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee

Since the inception of the memorial, a group of committee members have had instrumental hands in the fundraising, development, construction, and dedication of the memorial. The committee, which is composed of retired military, Vietnam veterans, family representatives and working professionals, see to it that community outreach, information, details and the upkeep of the memorial remain paramount. The group meets quarterly or as needed to discuss care, maintenance needs and activities involving the memorial. The committee also advises the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department.

Additional Information

Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee

1129 East Third Street at Kings Drive, Charlotte, NC

Cicely C. Mitchell

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