December 29, 2019 Your Neighborhood — Your News®
Borough unveils new Vietnam memorial
Queens residents find the names of fallen soldiers on the new Elmhurst Park Vietnam veterans memorial. Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
BY MAX PARROTT
The opening of first boroughwide
Vietnam memorial in Queens
was a bittersweet moment for both
Vietnam Veterans of America
(VVA) and for outgoing Borough
President Melinda Katz.
Katz and NYC Parks held a
ceremony for the memorial in
Elmhurst Park on the morning of
Friday, Dec. 20. For the veterans
group, ceremony culminated the
vision of former Chapter 32 President
Pat Toro who started the push
for the monument before passing
away from cancer related to Agent
Orange exposure in 2014.
For Katz, the project spanned
her entire 10-year presidency, from
the very beginning to her last ribbon
cutting in that role.
Built on the northwest corner
of Elmhurst Park, the project is
the first unified Vietnam memorial
to honor all of the 371 Queens
service members who died during
the Vietnam War or those classified
as “missing in action.”
“It’s representative of who
Queens is. You’ve got every ethnic
group you can think of on that
wall. Probably most religions.
Many of them are not citizens.
They died serving a country they
weren’t event a citizen of,” said
John Rowan, national president of
But the memorial is not just
those who died overseas.
“It is dedicated to all the people
who came home from the war who
are still dying today from afflictions
they got during the war,”
The monument is formed of
two two curved concrete slats engraved
with bamboo on one side
and the names of these soldiers on
the west-facing side to catch the reflection
of the sun as it rises.
“If there is a sun in the sky the
names of those men will gleam
brightly,” said Katz.
During their remarks, Councilman
Robert Holden and Juniper
Park Civic Association Tony
Nunziato recalled the process of
procuring the land, which had formerly
been the site of 275-feet-wide
gas tanks visible from the nearby
Former VVA Chapter 32 President
Michael O’Kane said that
when the city removed the tanks
and sold the land for $1, it was the
work of local leaders that brought
the memorial idea to fruition.
“Thanks to Bob Holden and
Juniper civic, the site was saved
from being a Home Depot. I think
we’d be standing in the kitchen remodeling
section right here,” said
The memorial’s design and construction
was fully funded by Katz,
who allocated $2.3 million in capital
funding over the past two years, in
addition to the $550,000 she first offered
in 2008 for her first project as
Reach reporter Max Parrott by
e-mail at mparrott@schnepsmedia.
com or by phone at (718) 260-2507.
Vol. 8 No. 52
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