Nov. 29, 2018 By Meghan Sackman
Elected officials and Queens veterans held a ceremonial groundbreaking today on a new memorial in Elmhurst Park honoring Vietnam War veterans.
The memorial, in the works for a decade, will rise at the park on Grand Avenue and 79th St. and honors all the 371 Queens residents that died in the war.
The new tribute, under construction since last month, was planned in coordination with the late Pat Toro, who served as president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32, along with Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
Toro initiated the idea for the memorial back in 2008, with Katz, then a council member, securing $550,000 for the project that year. The project, however, finally got a boost only years later, with $2.3 million allocated for the memorial in 2017 and 2018.
“The result is a thoughtful design that pays tribute to our borough’s heroes,” Lewandowski said. “It provides a physical space for contemplation and community gathering.”
The memorial will consist of two semi-circular granite walls. One wall will have the name of the memorial, the five crests representing the military forces, and a Vietnam service medal.
The second wall will have a written history of the war, including key dates and events, as well as the names of the fallen soldiers that have been strategically placed to be lit up in the sun.
Inside of the enclosure will be a radial bench, as well as a granite map of Vietnam with key locations and a flagpole. All of the enclosure will be illuminated at night.
The groundbreaking was attended by a number of Queens officials, including Council Members Robert Holden and Daniel Dromm, and Assemblymember Brian Barnwell. Veterans groups like the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 and Vietnam Veterans of America were also part of the event.
“Queens’ Vietnam War veterans deserve to be honored and remembered for their sacrifices,” Dromm said. “This memorial will educate Elmhurst residents on the war and commemorate our fallen heroes.”
The Vietnam Veterans memorial will be an addition to the 6-acre lush green space in Elmhurst that opened to the public in 2011.
The memorial, the first in a New York City park dedicated to all the fallen veterans of the Vietnam War from Queens, is slated to open in late fall 2019.