Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza
In 1983, the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, organized and launched and strongly supported during Mayor Ed Koch’s administration, took up the challenge of creating a lasting memorial to New Yorkers who served their country during the Vietnam War. The memorial was to be dedicated to the 1,741 City residents who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Commission worked across public/private sector lines to find a location and to raise the funds, and then guided the design and development of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. Completed and dedicated in 1985, the Memorial sits on a 90,000 square foot plaza, adjacent to 55 Water Street in lower Manhattan. It enshrines in a beautiful glass wall, the words and sentiments of our lost warriors, excerpted from their letters generously contributed by their families and loved ones. For twenty years the Memorial has been a place that honors our Vietnam Veterans, reflects the challenges and realities of that difficult war, and keeps alive the memory and history of the men and women who suffered, sacrificed and performed admirably during that period.
By 2000, the Memorial Plaza had deteriorated. Time and weather had taken their toll. The Plaza and its purpose seemed less viable and visible, leading to the formation of the “Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza.” Our mission was and is to bring the Plaza to a higher level of recognition, respect, and reflection, and to sustain it as a constant reminder of New Yorkers’ contributions and sacrifices during the Vietnam War. The Friends raised $7.1 Million from public and private donors to complete a renovation and expansion of the Memorial. The Memorial Plaza was rededicated in November of 2001, the first public space dedicated in lower Manhattan after the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001. Restored, the Plaza has enjoyed higher interest and greater respect, and has hosted a number of Veterans’ events and concerts. While we carry the ongoing responsibility to continue to maintain and beautify the Plaza, we face a greater challenge.
The wall itself – the epicenter of the Memorial – needs serious attention. The poignant words of our fallen veterans as communicated in letters home were etched into the wall. This wall, the unique, original concept behind the Memorial, is now losing its luster and legibility. If we are to honor our veterans for generations to come, we must fund and complete an infrastructure redesign and rebuild. As such, the Friends of the Plaza are dedicated to dual goals:
(1) Continue to raise the visibility of the Plaza and its message. Maintain and beautify it. Schedule significant, veterans-oriented events and activities on the Plaza. And, ensure that the Memorial continues to honor and to tell the stories of the 1,741 brave New York souls to whom this Memorial is dedicated.
(2) To work closely with the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation who are principally responsible for raising funds and driving the development of the memorial.
These are the pillars of purpose for the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Paul W. Bucha
Thomas G. Kelly
George C. Lang, In Memorium
Harry Bridgwood, Chairman
James M. Barnes
John J. Campbell
Richard S. Colt
Dennis J. Conroy
Bob Del Grosso
Robert C. DiChiara
William F. Milcarek
Robert D. Santos
Ronald L. Winchester