Whether or not you are a Veteran of Vietnam, or have ever been in the armed forces, you will find a visit to Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester extraordinarily moving.
The Memorial is the inspiration of Dr. Barry R. Culhane, a Vietnam Veteran, who began the $1.5 million project with the vision of creating a tribute to all heroes who fought in the War, and a memorial to the 280 Veterans from the Greater Rochester area who gave their lives in the service of their country in Vietnam.
The Memorial took 10 years from inception to creation. During that time, in addition to the struggle to raise funds and find a location for it, Culhane and his supporters worked to overcome many controversies surrounding its creation.
It finally found a home within beautiful Highland Park on 2.2 acres donated by the County of Monroe. In deference to those who requested that Rochester Veterans of other wars be included, their names are inscribed on bricks leading up to the memorial. To commemorate those Rochesterians who gave their lives in Vietnam, 280 stainless steel bollards have been erected at the edge of the winding path.
Visitors will find a granite marker, inscribed with names, that reads “Never again should one generation of Veterans forget another” and a timeline that captures, in chronological order, the battle experiences of a generation of Veterans.
One of my favorite pieces, by Wayne Williamson, is the thought-provoking and somehow eerie sculpture of a soldier stepping through a solid wall into …what is on that other side? Each visitor’s thoughts fill in the void.
The design of the memorial, which leads to an overlook resplendent with flags, overlooks the commemorative site and Highland park, encouraging both reflection and introspection.
Indeed, Dr. Culhane and the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Group of Greater Rochester have accomplished what they set out to do: “to commemorate, to educate, to heal.”
As Dr. Culhane explains, “The commemorative aspect was always there, the education takes place as a result of the five years it took to create the timeline and capture each piece of history and historic battle, and the healing…that is taking place now.”
For Veterans and their families in need of assistance or comfort, the Veteran’s Outreach Center, located at 459 South Avenue in Rochester is a resource center that provides welcome home and recovery assistance, offers clinical support and services as well as holds special events for the Veteran Community.
If you were interested in this post, you may also want to read the post about Rochester’s Lilac Festival, which takes place in Highland Park each May.