City’s lost Vietnam servicemen honored at last Keeping their memory alive
Bethlehem’s war dead were remembered Saturday morning in a solemn and emotional ceremony in front of Bethlehem City Hall. A new Vietnam War memorial now stands on East Church Street as a mute testimonial to the 35 men of Bethlehem who were killed in action during that war.
Some of the families of the fallen attended, several holding portraits of sons or brothers who gave their lives for their country.
City of Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez said these were neighbors and friends whose names are now graven into the black stone.
“I lost two good friends,” Donchez said. They were boys he had grown up with on Evans Street in Bethlehem’s Southside.
“It was earth shattering and moving to see our friends coming back after serving their country in action, but coming back as deceased.
“It was a troubled time back in the 1960s and 1970s,” Donchez said.
“They went when their country called. It is our duty to ensure that they are not forgotten. This monument will forever keep their memory alive.”
“They [returning vets] were not treated the way veterans who served their country and gave their lives should have been treated.
“This monument is a way the City of Bethlehem can say, ‘Thank you for your service and that we will never forget.’”
Mayor Donchez credited Beth Masiado as being mainly responsible for the concept and funding for the Bethlehem Vietnam KIA Memorial Dedication monument. She said she raised the $10,000 expense in four weeks.
Guest speaker U.S. Marine veteran Vi K. Luu gave the attendees, who for over 40 years have heard a narrative of how the U.S. lost the Vietnam War, a new perspective on the war.
“I believe we won that war,” Luu said. Then he began to explain.
“I grew up in war,” he said. “I was born in war; seen war; slept in war. I arose from war.”
Luu said one of his earliest memories was of him with his mother, who, after being blocked from reaching the U.S. embassy in Saigon, fled to the waterfront seeking to escape in a boat.
He described the political situation in Vietnam as a “civil war” that the United States tried to help South Vietnam win.
“Each of you here today are patriots. What I mean by patriot is a person who actually expressed that patriotism with action.”
The Bethlehem Vietnam KIA Memorial was unveiled and welcomed with salutes by members of the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club.
Liberty HS sophomores Zuri Foella, Zackary Bingaman, Ethan Souinski and Jesse Kolb played “Amazing Grace” for the dedication.
Mariah Nagle, a student at Liberty, sang the National Anthem. Greg Tocci played a musical tribute, “Who You’d Be Today.”
Nicholas Miravich of the Liberty Grenadiers played “Taps” at the close of the ceremony.
American Legion Johnson Post 379 provided a 21-gun salute.
Gold Star mother Carol Resh, mother of Captain Mark Resh, who was killed on a combat mission in his Apache helicopter Jan. 28, 2007, spoke to the crowd. The front row was occupied by Gold Star families. “Gold Star” denotes mothers and families who have lost a son or daughter serving in the armed forces. “Blue Star” symbolizes families who have a son or daughter serving in the military.
“We support each other,” she said. “My Blue Star turned to Gold.”