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Remember rockets' red glare, bombs bursting in air

The Fourth of July is one of the best holidays in America. Picnics, barbecues, patriotic music; family and friends getting together to celebrate. Children, and many adults, impatiently wait all day for the sun to fade into the west for the anticipated fireworks display.

Our Fourth of July traditions are rooted in the celebration of our independence and freedoms. In particular, the fireworks tradition represents the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air. Each point of light in the sky from the aerial fireworks represent our country’s war dead. More than a million have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and for freedom around the world. The sounds of fireworks exploding represent the sounds of battle, symbolic of those wounded in the service of our country.

For those of us who never served in the military or experienced combat conditions, these representations are what we can use to relate and understand the losses and sacrifices of those who did.

In essence, some of our Fourth of July traditions are a type of memorial. Memorials do not have to be sad. Memorials are a celebration and remembrance. In celebrating and remembering, we are giving honor to those who served and sacrificed on our behalf. This is the value of memorials. Memorials of all types are important for all of us. To honor is a great and needed action.

Over 30 years ago, both California and Washington dedicated Vietnam War memorials on their capitol grounds. These two states extended the ultimate collective celebration and remembrance to their Vietnam veterans with these memorials. A state-authorized memorial on its capitol grounds is symbolic of extreme esteem.

California and Washington appropriately honored their Vietnam veterans for their service and sacrifice. Oregon has yet to do the same.

One cannot find a state-authorized Vietnam war memorial on state property in the capital city of Salem. But, there is a memorial to every other war.

Oregon must follow the example of our neighboring states. A Vietnam War memorial on the state capitol grounds is required so that we as a state will not forget the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans. It is imperative for the state of Oregon to act and to act as quickly as possible. Today, it is estimated that our Vietnam veterans are passing at a rate of eight per day.

There is a group of Oregon citizens working to construct a Vietnam War memorial on the Oregon state capitol grounds. A proposed design is almost completed. Unfortunately, this year’s legislative session did not produce the needed permissions to erect this memorial.

It is estimated that the $2.5 million Oregon Capitol Vietnam War Memorial could be completed in 2022. This is conditional upon the action of the Oregon State Legislature in the 2020 legislative session for the necessary permissions and the help of donors like you.

What better way to celebrate this Fourth of July but to have a helping hand in remembering and honoring our Oregon Vietnam veterans with the Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds project. Let us all honor our Vietnam era veterans.

For more information, go to the website of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund, the Fund for a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol Grounds (www.VietnamWarMemorialFund.org).

Contributions can be made by credit card on the website or by sending a check or money order to: Vietnam War Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1448, Boring, OR 97009.

Steve Bates, a 42-year resident of Boring, is a retired executive and a life member of the Associates of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He serves as chair of the Committee on Memorials and Remembrance and is president of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund.