While paying tribute to all veterans on their day, a ceremony in Middletown Wednesday also gave attendees an advance look at the Lower Bucks County Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
A scale model of the monument that will honor the 95 armed services members from Lower Bucks killed in action during the Vietnam War and one missing in action was unveiled during the event at Middletown Veterans Memorial Park on Veterans Highway, the site where the memorial is scheduled to be installed sometime in the spring.
"Some people ask, why have any memorials?" Army veteran and Upper Makefield resident David Christian told the crowd of more than 100 who braved Wednesday's rain. He received several decorations and medals for his service in Vietnam.
"Why not just concentrate on social programs and other ways to help veterans? I say that in this great, great country of ours, why can't we do both? This memorial will be part of American history and definitely part of Bucks County history. The way you treat your veterans is the way you will get your next class of veterans."
The memorial being fashioned by noted military sculptor Abbe Godwin will have two black granite panels, six feet by 30 inches each, with the inscribed names of the 96 veterans. Also part of the work will be a six-foot bronze sculpture of a Vietnam War soldier to be called "In Memory," insignias for the U.S. military branches and other features.
The estimated $250,000 cost is being funded with state and local grants and donations.
Another speaker at Wednesday's ceremony, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, Middletown, said he was recently told by a veteran set to redeploy that "we fight not because we hate the enemy standing in front of us, but because we love the country standing behind us."
"One common trait among all veterans is that they made a conscious decision to put their physical and mental heath on the line in the name of their country," Fitzpatrick continued. "They love their country more than themselves."
When finished and installed, the Lower Bucks memorial will join a Vietnam veterans memorial in Doylestown that honors all county veterans killed or missing in action in Vietnam, and one in Bristol Township that honors the ones from that municipality.
Recognized on the Lower Bucks monument will be veterans from Bensalem, Bristol Borough, Bristol Township, Falls, Hulmeville, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Lower Makefield, Lower Southampton, Middletown, Morrisville, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township, Northampton, Penndel, Upper Makefield, Upper Southampton, and Wrightstown.
During Wednesday's ceremony, Lower Bucks County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee Chairman Ed Preston invited all veterans who served during the Vietnam War anywhere from 1955 to 1973 to come forward and receive a special pin.
He said donations are needed for the memorial. To donate or for more information, call 215-750-3634 or visit lbcvvm.org.
"Vietnam veterans suffered not only during the war but many also after the war with the effects of Agent Orange and other things," said Bucks County Director of Military Affairs Dan Fraley, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam.
"If we can do more to acknowledge them, then we're doing our job."