By Jim Tortolano
With emotions running high, the Westminster City Council on Wednesday night voted to approve a proposal to place a “Heroes Memorial” in a city park to honor five South Vietnamese generals and one lieutenant colonel who committed suicide rather than accept surrender in April 1975 to communist forces.
The council voted 4-0 – with Margie Rice absent – to support the item placed on the agenda by Mayor Tri Ta and Councilwoman Kimberly Ho. The memorial will be located in the Sid Goldstein Freedom Park in the Civic Center under an agreement with the Coalition of the Republic of Vietnam Veterans Associations in Southern California, which promises to bear the estimated $60,000 expense of construction.
“The reason we are proposing this is that I truly believe that it’s time for our generation to recognize” the sacrifices made during the war, said Ta, and to “help future generations to understand and honor” those who gave their lives to defend their nation.
Five speakers addressed the council, including Fountain Valley Mayor Pro Tem Michael Vo. All supported the project, including one man who choked up several times during his remarks, and another who accused anti-war protesters Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden and John Kerry of disloyalty.
Ho also fought for composure during her remarks, saying “My father was a full colonel in the South Vietnamese army and I know how hard they worked and how hard they fought.”
The project approved Wednesday night closely resembles a similar proposal suggested for Garden Grove Park by Councilman Phat Bui. The memorial idea there drew some criticism in Garden Grove and stalled.
At the Freedom Park, the monument would be a 10-feet-wide by 8-feet-high concrete panel displaying the pictures and biographies of the six. On the back would be a bronze plaque displaying the names of the mayor and city council members, along with the Coalition of Vietnam Veteran Associations in Southern California. Also listed would be the names of city staff and the architect involved in the project.