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MailTribune.com
  • Push starts for Vietnam memorial

    Officials begin campaign to build replica of famed wall to honor veterans
  • A group of local officials is spearheading an effort to build a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Medford.
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    • How to help
      Anyone interested in donating to a project to build a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall can do so at the Southern Oregon Veterans Benefit website at www.sovb.org or by contacting Russ M...
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      How to help
      Anyone interested in donating to a project to build a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall can do so at the Southern Oregon Veterans Benefit website at www.sovb.org or by contacting Russ McBride at 541-778-3171 or by e-mail at russfontm21@hotmail.com.
  • A group of local officials is spearheading an effort to build a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Medford.
    State Rep. Sal Esquivel, Medford Councilor Eli Matthews and Russ McBride, president of Southern Oregon Veterans Benefit, have begun a campaign to raise $250,000 to pay for construction of the wall, which would be built in Veterans Park in south Medford.
    The installation, which would be a replica of the wall in Washington, D.C., would be the first of its kind on the West Coast, according to backers.
    Although the design hasn't been completed yet, the wall would be 250 feet long and 5 feet high and have the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who died during the Vietnam War.
    Supporters of the proposal will ask the City Council at noon Thursday to allow construction of the wall in the park at the intersection of South Pacific Highway and Stewart Avenue.
    "It's a healing process for not only the veterans, but a healing process for the society who didn't treat the veterans right when they returned from the war," said Esquivel, who is a Vietnam veteran.
    He noted the Veterans Memorial doesn't include the many thousands of veterans who committed suicide because they couldn't make the transition back into society after the war.
    Veterans Park in Medford already has two walls with the names of Southern Oregonians who died in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
    Matthews said it would be up to the City Council to decide whether the park can be used for such a large commemorative installation.
    He said there are many veterans in the area who would likely support the idea.
    "It's a really big deal for Medford," he said. "We're all in agreement that we want to honor the 58,000 who lost their lives in Vietnam."
    McBride, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, said he would like to see a computerized system near the monument that would let people look up information about veterans.
    "It's a great opportunity to do something for the whole West Coast," he said.
    McBride said the idea of creating a replica of the wall gelled as he talked with Esquivel recently.
    "Sal just said, 'Let's do it,'" he said.
    McBride said millions of vets will never see or visit the memorial in Washington, D.C., because of the travel costs or because they suffer from disabilities.
    He said the wall design will be somewhat different than the massive black granite installation in Washington, D.C.
    The names of the Vietnam veterans who died in the war likely will be inscribed on aluminum plates for the Medford wall, he said.
    The wall in Washington stands 10 feet at its highest point and each of the two wings is almost 250 feet in length.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.
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