The Westminster City Council voted narrowly Wednesday afternoon to approve the “design and depiction” of the controversial Quang Tri monument, with two members – Mayor Tri Ta and Councilmember Chi Charlie Nguyen – abstaining.
It’s intended to be a commemoration of the 1972 success of South Vietnamese forces, assisted by American air and naval units, in recapturing a vital citadel. That action was considered crucial in stopping an offensive by Communist North Vietnamese forces.
Wednesday’s decision came despite near-unanimous public comment expressing opposition to the monument. Sixteen people spoke against it and only two – members of the committee organizing the project –spoke in favor.
After reciting a long list of objections to the accuracy, procedure and even the grammar associated with the monument, local activist Terry Rains said, “The public is sick of this monument and of the council bickering.”
The meeting was relatively civil, with most of the discussion centering on specific details of the proposal, including wording of plaques to be displayed on the monument and the placement of unit patches. Responses to those issues will be presented to the council later.
No decision was made on the location of the monument, but the current recommended spot is Westminster Park, located at Hazard Avenue and Magnolia Street. The intended date for completion of the project – which is privately funded – is September 2022, the 50-year anniversary of the battle.
In response to complaints about the lack of inclusion of American Vietnam war veterans in the committee’s decision-making, Councilmember Tai Do cautioned panel members to create a project that could be supported by the whole city, not just the Vietnamese community.