Monday, June 8, 2009

Open Letter to the Wichita City Council: Concerning the proposed Vietnamese Veterans Memorial

Tomorrow, the Wichita City Council will take action on a proposal to erect a memorial to the veterans of the  South Vietnamese Army who fought alongside the Americans in the Vietnam war. Some who have expressed opposition to the proposal have suggested that Wichita's Veterans Memorial park is only for "our" veterans and not "theirs". Some have suggested that the nearly 8,000 Vietnamese men and women who live in our city should 'just be happy we let them come here'. And still others have suggested that if a memorial is to be erected, then it should be placed in the Planeview area (which is a section of the city with a large Vietnamese population). 

But as an organization that is deeply rooted in the American tradition, one that is intimately familiar with the virtues of sacrifice and struggle, one that fights for the unfettered and uniform application of the rights and liberties that our military men and women have fought and died for, and one that seeks the full and unqualified recognition of the inherent equality of all persons, we could not sit by and ignore those who would advocate such sentiments. What follows is a letter that was sent to Mayor Carl Brewer and all of the members of the Wichita City Council, on behalf of the Wichita Branch of the NAACP.

To the Honorable Mayor Carl Brewer and members of the City Council,

I am writing you today to express our support for the proposed Vietnamese Veterans Memorial to be erected within Veterans Memorial Park. It is consistent with our values that we would recognize and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who fought along side of our troops during the Vietnam war. The proposal before the City Council seems a fitting tribute to this history of shared sacrifice and it recognizes all who bravely fought in defense of freedom during that conflict.

As a Veteran and the child of a military family with roots going back to the Korean war, I appreciate the service and the risks undertaken by the members of the South Vietnamese Army as they fought against the spread of communism. These men and women fought, bled, and many died, along side men like my Father, in defense of the very ideals that we as Americans still hold dear. In honoring them, we honor ourselves...

And as a proud representative of the nation’s largest, oldest, and most consequential civil rights organization, we are proud to stand in support of the members of the Vietnamese community who have brought you this proposal. There are nearly 8,000 Americans of Vietnamese origin, many of whom are veterans of the conflict, who are an integral part of our city. We feel it would send a tragic message were we to segregate our tributes by denying them space within the Veterans Memorial park.

In closing, we reiterate our support for the proposed memorial, and we thank you in advance for your consideration of this request…

Best Regards,


Kevin Myles
President; Wichita NAACP
Political Affairs Chair; Kansas State NAACP
www.wichitanaacpblog.com

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