By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Tom Prince Memorial Park in Colfax will be held Thursday, August 30, at 11 a.m.
All area Vietnam Veterans and members of the public are invited to attend the dedication.
The memorial will include a sign cut out of steel that reads, “Dedicated to our Vietnam Veterans” and a granite memorial that reads, “1961 – 1975. Dedicated to our Vietnam Veterans. ‘In honored memory of all who served and gave the full measure of devotion to their nation in the Vietnam War.’” The granite memorial will include the insignia of the five branches of the service.
In 1983, the Colfax Village Board officially named what is now Tom Prince Memorial Park the “Colfax Area Recreational Park” and dedicated the park to the veterans of the Vietnam war.
Mike Hanson, the village president in 1983, suggested the park be dedicated to the Vietnam veterans because, he said, they were the most forgotten and unthanked American soldiers.
A memorial to the Vietnam veterans was never placed at the park, however.
Every year during the Veterans’ Day program at Colfax High School, William C. Yingst Jr., school superintendent and a retired Command Sergeant Major with the United States Army, makes a point of recognizing area veterans, but when he reaches the Vietnam veterans, he makes an extra-special point of recognizing them since they were treated so shamefully when they returned home nearly 50 years ago.
The Colfax Messenger came across the article in March about the ball park being dedicated to the veterans of the Vietnam War 35 years ago in 1983 as part of the weekly “Out of the Past” feature, so the Messenger contacted Yingst.
And that was when the idea was born for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Tom Prince Park.
Sometimes people ask, “Why now, after all this time?” and Yingst replies, “Why not now?” because “it is never too late to right a wrong.”
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will not include the names of individual veterans, but instead, is intended to honor all Vietnam veterans.
Students from the Colfax school district will be attending the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication at Tom Prince Memorial Park, and the high school band will provide music for the occasion.
The dedication will begin at 11 a.m., and following will be a picnic-style lunch for the students, Vietnam veterans and members of the general public.
The Colfax school district food service staff will be preparing and serving lunch.
In addition to the students, lunch will be provided for all of the Vietnam veterans as honored guests. Others attending, if they so choose, may make a free-will offering for the lunch.
Chairs will be provided for the Vietnam veterans. Others are asked to bring a lawn chair.
Weather permitting, a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter will fly over the ball park and land as part of the dedication. This particular UH-1 (or “Huey” as they were known in Vietnam) was used in Vietnam in 1966-67 in the Air Cavalry and was brought back to the United States and restored. The Huey will be flying in from New Richmond.
To help with logistics, if you are planning to attend the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial August 30, contact the Colfax High School office at 715-962-3155.
If you know Vietnam veterans, please invite them to attend.
Tom Prince Memorial Park is located in Colfax on state Highway 170 west of the Red Cedar River.