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Sunday, April 29, 2012
Wichita's Vietnam War Memorial has been years in the making. Intended to honor those who served in the war, it is also a remembrance of those who were forced to flee their homes in Vietnam, in search of freedom.
The newest addition to the memorial is bronze statue that stands in the center of the area, and depicts an American soldier with a Vietnamese soldier sitting next to him.
"It's a piece of history that was overlooked for awhile. The Vietnamese community, as well as the Wichita community, came together to fundraise to build this memorial," said Kim Nguyen, granddaughter of Suong Truong, who fled Vietnam.
In a private ceremony, the Vietnamese community dedicated the memorial, recalling 37 years ago when their lives and their country changed forever.
"A lot of people, about 1.5 million, left Vietnam via mountain and sea to look for freedom," said Truong.
Not only does the memorial honor all the Vietnam veterans, but also the Vietnamese community's American friends who they say stood beside them and welcomed them with open arms when they had no where else to go.
"They're so happy to be in America. They told me they left Vietnam for their freedom and for their children," said Babs Mellor, lead sculptor of the statue.
Now, they have a permanent reminder of that freedom they can share with the entire Wichita community. A public dedication for the statue will be held July 4.