Saugerties, N.Y. - Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is pleased to announce the opening of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall at Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex in Saugerties. An opening ceremony will be held starting at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 19 with an invocation by the Reverend Leroy Ness (Vietnam, 1969), welcome remarks from County Executive Hein, and a keynote address by Colonel Roger Donlon, (MOH, 1964). The ceremony will be emceed by Tom Andreassen (Vietnam, 1966-67), member of American Legion Post 72. Following the ceremony, the memorial will be open for public viewing 24-hours a day until Sunday, July 22nd at 8:00 p.m.
The traveling three-fifths scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. commemorates the over 58,000 service members who gave their lives for our country in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the Nation’s Capital is often considered an important part of the healing process for Vietnam Veterans because many Veterans visit the wall to remember those who served alongside them and to reflect on their own service. It has also served as a reminder of their sacrifice, and a continuing call to our Nation to honor their service. Ulster County is home to approximately 11,000 Veterans with roughly 60 % having served during Vietnam. The names of 42 Ulster County residents who were killed in action are embossed on the wall.
Upon learning of the opportunity to host a traveling version of the wall last fall, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein began organizing efforts to bring the monument to Saugerties. Although the wall itself is sponsored by Ulster County, the effort to bring it here and honor its purpose has involved the support of many organizations, most notably American Legion Post 72, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5034, a group of local veterans known as the “Gang of Nine”, and businesses such as Sawyer Motors, Ulster Savings Bank and nearly 70 others that have contributed financial support or volunteers.
Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive
“I am proud that Ulster County has the honor to host the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “The wall’s design is powerful, enabling the visitor to see their own reflection in it, as they read the names of those who have sacrificed for them. Seeing a memorial that honors the service and sacrifice of so many who gave their lives for our county in Vietnam is a moving tribute to their courage. For many younger residents, this will be their first chance to learn about the Vietnam War and meet veterans of the conflict. I felt compelled to bring the Traveling Wall to Ulster County after meeting with the widows of two U.S. Servicemen who were killed during Vietnam; They told me about the impact that visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. had on them, and I knew we had to make this happen for those who served our county during Vietnam, their families and the residents of Ulster County. I am grateful to Steven Massee and Keith Bennett at the Ulster County Veteran Services Agency, Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello, the American Legion Post 72 and the VFW Post 5034, Sawyer Motors, Ulster Savings Bank the many volunteers and community members who helped to make this event a reality.”
Steve Massee, Ulster County Veteran Services Director
“The Wall is an iconic tribute to the service members killed in action in Vietnam, and has become a connection to their brothers in arms who made it home,” Steve Massee, Ulster County Veterans’ Service Agency Director. “The Wall is sacred, emotional and powerful for Vietnam combat Veterans who came home to a country which at the time, did not appreciate their service and sacrifice. The Wall has had a gradual healing influence on Vietnam Veterans, and helped the Country come to a long overdue conviction of ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome home’ to the over 2 million Veterans who served in Vietnam. This is a once in a generation local opportunity to experience the Wall, and I hope the public will turn out in force to honor those ‘who gave all’ and continue the healing.”
Frank Reggero, American Legion Post 72 Commander
“Over the past few months I have witnessed first-hand the commitment, dedication and genuine generosity of an entire community to make sure we honor the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam Veterans and their families properly,” said Frank Reggero American Legion Post 72 Commander. “The support received at American Legion Post 72 and VFW Post 5034 of Saugerties, has been overwhelming. I am deeply honored to have played a role in this historic event. We would like to once again thank County Executive Mike Hein for making this a reality, not only for Saugerties but for all of Ulster County. I believe I can speak for all those in involved in saying, Saugerties is ready to welcome and honor all veterans, their families and all those attending.”
On Wednesday, July 18th, the Traveling Wall will be escorted by an honor convoy from the New Baltimore service area on the New York State Thruway, to the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex, where it will be constructed. The convoy is expected to arrive at the Kingston exit on the NYS Thruway at 11:00 a.m., and will proceed via Broadway and US Route 9W to the Village of Saugerties, where it is expected to arrive at the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex at noon on Wednesday. Following the opening ceremony, the monument will be open for public viewing 24- hours a day from noon on Thursday, July 19th through 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 22nd. On July 22, a closing Memorial Baseball Game at will be held at Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex starting at 4 pm followed by a Closing Ceremony at 7:30 pm.
A press packet is available online, and video/photos will be posted throughout the duration of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall’s presence in Saugerties: