BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Thirty years ago, a monument honoring the service, sacrifice and suffering of Vietnam veterans was erected along Buffalo’s waterfront. On Sunday, many gathered to celebrate this anniversary and rededicate this long-standing reminder of a costly war.
“We served as proudly as any that this country has ever put in the field, but the duty doesn’t stop when the shooting does. When the shooting stops, your duty as a veteran is to remember and help other people remember” said Steve Banko, a Vietnam veteran.
The monument bears the names of 508 local soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who never returned from war.
“Each name is a story unto itself, each life ended far too soon”.
Fellow Vietnam veteran Rick Toposki said “This is fantastic, the show for the people that have fallen. One of the guys I grew up with from grammar school and high school is the first man that died from Cardinal O’Hara High school”.
The memorial was recently refurbished just in time for the anniversary.
Sunday’s ceremony opened with the sound of bagpipes. A table was set to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action from all five branches of the armed forces.
The Gold Star Mothers who lost a child in the service were also honored. “Sacrifice is only one aspect of their heroism. The other is their service in perpetuating the noble principles for which their sons fought and died” said Banko.
The Vietnam memorials has stood for 30 years on the Waterfront and veterans hope it will stay forever and be a place of remembrance and healing.
The veterans also hope to raise more money to continue upgrading the monument. If you want to donate, Banko said anyone can contact the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition.