Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vietnam Memorial - Rochester NY

July 2016 - Rochester NY

We spent a great two days in Rochester visiting some sights and murals.

We went on a hunt for the Vietnam Memorial and the sight was breathtaking. It was also Monday morning so we were the only visitors.

WE had visited the Killing Fields in Vietnam in 2015 and that was quite an experience.

These flags were our destination as we tried to figure out where the memorial was.

Flag Poles - From Highland Avenue or South Avenue, you first notice the flagpoles. There are seven in all, five representing the various branches of the armed forces, one for the POW/MIA flag, and the American Flag flying high above the rest. The five service flags are flown in the order of priority in the military; the insignias that are set in the floor below the flags are in order of creation of the different branches of service.

As per their website - italics:

The Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has found its home in Highland Park South, has been a place of great pride since its dedication on September 8, 1996. Through the years, the memorial has matured and developed into a unique place of tranquility and honor. The numbers of lives that have been touched by this memorial go far beyond those who were intended in the original mission. This memorial is truly a living memorial which grows more with every experience and emotion left behind by all who have visited the site.

The memorial commemorates the service, valor, and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Era Veterans as well as all members of the Greater Rochester community who were touched by the effects of the war. The memorial also provides all Americans the opportunity for learning, remembering, and peaceful reflection. It aims to educate future generations about the war and effects leading up to it. It also serves as an oasis where people from the Greater Rochester area come to reflect about acts of valor by fellow soldiers, a loved one who suffered or died as a result of the war, and to publicly welcome home those who served.

This site is a work in progress. Some areas of the site are complete at this time, others will be completed as soon as possible.

Silence surrounded us as we paid tribute.

Along the path is the Medal of Honor Grove, dedicated to all Vietnam-era service people who received the country's highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Here, black granite again recalls the Wall in Washington, D.C. and points to a bollard directly across the path: William T. Perkins, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient.

Trees – 23 American redbud trees commemorating the 23 Medal of Honor recipients from New York State.

Bollards - 280

Make up the Walk of Honor, underfoot are brick pavers. The focus of the walk is on your right, a single-file line of identical bollards, seemingly endless, running along the Walk's edge and curving ahead out of sight. Each bollard is made of brushed stainless steel, "America's metal," and each represents a Rochester-area soldier, killed or missing in action in the Vietnam War. Each bollard bears two small plaques: one, an insignia of the soldier's military branch; the other bearing the soldier's name, date of birth, date of death or disappearance, and high school. The bollards are sequenced chronologically according to the final day in the life of each soldier.

The bollards are sequenced chronologically according to the final day in the life of each soldier. They resemble human figures, but your own interpretation determines their posture; they trudge forward, heads down, under the weight of what they carry; or they stand erect, heads tipped back, faces turned up towards the sun. You still have to bow your head as you read each name.

Map of globe at base of American Flag - The floor plan is of black granite, a large world map in relief that highlights the United States and Vietnam. The physical distance and lack of obvious connection between the two lands are hard to miss. Your feet and your eyes now create a connection between the world etched in the floor plan, the immediate surroundings of Greater Rochester, and the individual soldiers memorialized in this place.

Topography - The topography and the vista remind them of Vietnam, of the hilltops where they used to wait for the choppers to take them out of battle. The two acres of memorial have been sculpted to create landforms typical of rural Vietnam.

The Veterans Garden has the sculpture of the soldier walking into a black granite wall, walking through time from past to now. The wall is polished to a high reflection, incorporating into the memorial the mirror image of the living. There is a gap in the line of bollards: the design committee specified that the sculpture be accessible; veterans and families of lost soldiers would want to touch the sculpture and to catch their own reflection in the wall. This is a place of connection between the living and the dead.

From the veterans website:

This memorial is for veterans and their loved ones and all of our citizens affected by Vietnam. To Commemorate those who served their country and those who died.
To Educate future generations about this important and controversial time in our history …and to Heal the heartaches of decades. Military men and women went to Vietnam to fight an unpopular war to return, often alone, to fight a second war at home, choosing the silence of the maligned and misunderstood. Many veterans buried their rage, guilt, horror, and sadness along with their great sense of pride for doing their best. All sacrificed something of themselves. Most went on with their lives as productive Americans. Those who never served, but could have, remember the time well.

Even though every battle in Vietnam was won by America, Vietnam is the war Americans know we lost. Vietnam became a war associated with The Forgotten War in Korea.


  1. This is a special place for me, several men I knew are honored here. I'm glad that you found this.

  2. Poignant and moving. They got this memorial just right.

  3. A beautiful post of a place of sadness. So many people died.I like the soldier walking through the wall from the past to the now. What a nice symbol.


This blog does not allow anonymous comments.