The Huntsville City Council awarded $50,000 to the HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas on Oct. 20 to celebrate Vietnam veterans. The museum plans on buying an 80% replica wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to permanently house in Huntsville.
American Veterans Traveling Tribute created the Traveling Vietnam Wall,which traveled across the United States for 15 years.
“I was more than pleased to have the council not only approve but double the amount which I requested on the agenda item,” Councilmember Joe Rodriquez said.
Rodriquez, a decorated veteran who served a year in Vietnam, wanted to bring the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to live in Huntsville as a tribute to local veterans and to bring in tourism. The money donated by the city came from Hotel Occupancy Tax. Texas mandates the funds from the tax be used for tourism attractions.
“Not everyone has the opportunity or the means to travel to Washington D.C. to see the wall there,” President of the HEARTS Veterans Museum Board of Directors Kenneth Lee said. “Having this wall in our community will allow many more veterans and families to see this tribute to those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.”
The piece displays names of casualties, Vietnam casualty statistics, prisoner of war and missing in action and victims of Agent Orange.
The museum plans to debut the wall by March 29, 2021, which is the date President Donald Trump declared Vietnam Veterans Day.
“As a Vietnam veteran, this project is very personal for me,” Lee said. “It ranks as the most important thing we have done at the museum. Many names on the wall were friends. This is a way to show they are not forgotten and honor them with the respect they deserve.”