CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY ON VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL IN ELMHURST PARKFOR IMMEDIATE
Thursday, November 29, 2018
First memorial in a New York City Park dedicated to all the fallen veterans of the Vietnam War from Queens slated to open in late fall 2019
Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski today joined Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assembly Member Brian Barnwell, Assembly Member Michael DenDekker, Council Member Robert Holden, Senator-Elect John Liu, National President of the Vietnam Veterans of America John Rowan, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 Michael O’Kane, Evelyn Toro wife of the late Pat Toro (former president of the Queens chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America), and Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol to officially mark the start of construction on a new memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War in Elmhurst Park. Construction officially began in October 2018, and the project is expected to be complete by late fall 2019.
“We are elated to celebrate the start of construction on this memorial, which is the product of years of collaboration between Parks, Borough President Katz, and local veterans,” said Commissioner Lewandowski. “The result is a thoughtful design that pays tribute to our borough’s heroes, and provides a physical space for contemplation and community gathering.”
“Hundreds of Queens natives gave their lives to defend their country in the Vietnam War, and now hundreds of their family members will finally have a place to publicly honor their sacrifice,” said Council Member Holden. “I look forward to taking a moment to reflect while walking through this beautiful memorial once it’s completed, and I commend Borough President Katz, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 and NYC Parks for getting this important project started.”
"Queens' Vietnam War veterans deserve to be honored and remembered for their sacrifices," said Council Member Dromm. "This memorial will educate Elmhurst residents on the war and commemorate our fallen heroes. I applaud Queens Borough President Katz, Commissioner Lewandowski and our local veterans for working to make this project a reality. This is a great day for our hero veterans."
“The forgotten heroes of this great country are the Vietnam Veterans,” said Assembly Member Barnwell. “These individuals had to endure two fronts: the battle abroad and at home. These soldiers exemplify the meaning of American Grit. While we can never repay their sacrifice, I am honored to be a part of this ceremony and dedication that recognizes their service and sacrifice. This is long overdue.”
"This Memorial represents the mix of all the inhabitants of Queens, which began with the early '60's expansion of legal immigration from all parts of the world," stated John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America.
The project is fully funded by allocations from Borough President Katz, who has allocated $2.3 million in capital funding between FY17-18, which comes on top of the $550,000 first secured in FY08 by then-City Councilmember Katz.
The memorial was designed by NYC Parks in consultation with the Vietnam Veterans of America local Chapter 32 and in close partnership with its former President, the late Pat Toro. The semi-enclosed memorial will provide a contemplative space that honors those Queens residents who fell during the Vietnam War. Two semi-circular granite walls flank the space. One bears the name of the memorial, the five crests of the military and the Vietnam Service Medal. On the inside of the wall, an etching of bamboo represents a common element of the Vietnam War. The second wall provides the history of the war including key events and dates, as well as 371 names off fallen soldiers, which have been placed strategically to receive sun during the day. The granite walls, as well as the existing flagpole, will both be illuminated at night.
Inside of the enclosure sits a radial bench, and in the center of the oval, a granite map of Vietnam with key locations highlighted. The space is designed to be able to host small memorial gatherings to remember the heroes it honors. Plantings will also be added as a living memorial, and to soften the edge of the space.
Elmhurst Park, once an eyesore and traffic landmark, opened to the public in 2011 as a magnificent community greenspace. The site of Elmhurst Park was once the location of two KeySpan Newtown gas holders, a highway landmark popularly known as the "Elmhurst gas tanks." With the support of the community, the site was sold by KeySpan to the City of New York for $1 and was cleaned up and returned to the public as open space. The park now features lush lawns, a playground for kids, jogging paths, seating, sculpture, modern comfort stations, safety lighting, and more than 600 trees.