SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC has always had a strong support for our military. That was evident even three decades ago, as Savannah lacked a fitting tribute to our Vietnam Veterans.
The Vietnam Memorial now sits in Emmet Park just off Bay Street. The establishment of the shrine took time and a lot of effort to build and fund. WTOC put its effort behind the memorial by holding a fundraiser.
“Now, it’s our turn to do our duty and honor these fallen Americans and their compatriots who are still with us. Call now to help build this monument."
There was much Americans didn’t understand in the throes of the war in Vietnam: the reason Americans were in Southeast Asia, the misplaced political priorities, the unrealistic expectations - and the grief that flowed as surely on Hamburger Hill as it did on Normandy and Iwo Jima.
“His whole platoon was wiped out that morning, and a week later, they just turned it over to Vietnam. That’s the one thing I can never understand," said Leona Youmans, of Tybee.
“But sometimes, I go to the door and I look out, and I wonder what would he have been like had he lived," said Gladys Jenkins, of Savannah.
Adding to the war pain was a country that took its anger and confusion out on the returning troops. In Savannah, a group of Vietnam vets banded together to right the country’s wrong in its treatment of those who fought. Their symbol would be a monument in Emmett Park. They enlisted Mayor Rousakis and WTOC’s Doug Weathers for a documentary to help restore honor to the soldiers who had already spilled blood, sweat and tears. From this area, 106 soldiers did not make it home.
“Savannahians, Chatham Countians (residents), it doesn’t count those that lived here in the Lowcountry of Savannah and Lowcountry of South Carolina, so very close to home, the tragedy that came out of this war," said John Rousakis, who was the mayor of Savannah from 1970-1992.
Today, the monument lives with the names of those lost to Vietnam etched in granite - a permanent offering of gratitude to the soldiers and families who had given so much.