Southwest Houston Honors Vietnam Veterans with New Memorial

Southwest Houston Honors Vietnam Veterans with New Memorial
The Houston Vietnam Veterans Memorial is unveiled in Club Creek Park in the Westwood Super Neighborhood, just south of Sharpstown

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On Friday, May 26th, 2023, Club Creek Park hosted at least 250 Vietnam veterans, family members, elected officials, police officers, and others. Shaded by a giant white tent canopy, they attended the unveiling of a new memorial honoring the soldiers from the Houston area who served in Vietnam—especially those who gave their lives.

The memorial was inspired by Donald Pollard Sr., father of District J Council Member Edward Pollard. Pollard Sr. took a semester off from college to earn money for a car—and got drafted to go to Vietnam as a Marine. When he returned to America, he did not receive “a proper welcome home,” said Council Member Pollard.

The Vietnam War was unpopular with the American public, so many soldiers faced disrespect or outright scorn when they came home. “Some experienced rocks and bottles hurled at them, in conjunction with racial slurs and being called ‘baby killers,’” writes Paul Young (Pollard’s chief of staff) on the left panel of the memorial.

Vietnam veterans received little thanks from their country. But “a grateful country recognizes where it went wrong,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner in his dedication speech. (“That’s right!” shouted a man from the audience.)

The memorial was designed and sculpted by Vickie and Troy Kelley. It was funded by $1.3 million from TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) #20, which was created by the Houston city council to improve areas of Sharpstown, Westwood, Alief, Braeburn, and Brays Oaks.

After speeches from Council Member Pollard, Mayor Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and others, the American Legion Harrisburg Post 472 Honor Guard delivered a 21-gun salute. The clinks of falling cartridges were followed by “Taps.”

Then, people gathered to remove the red cloth hiding the memorial. The angled, black marble slabs spotlighted the struggles and contributions of African Americans, Vietnamese Americans, women, POW/MIAs, and others. It was hard to see the memorial through the encircling crowd.

But on Memorial Day, the park was quiet. The tent, folding chairs, and camera crews were gone. Two men in neon green shirts watered the new rectangles of turf, and a father and mother watched their children play on the playground, which was almost the same green as old-fashioned toy army men.

Then, what looked like a family of five—with three generations represented—clambered out of a vehicle. The two women in their teens or twenties didn’t look at the memorial for long. But the other three family members walked to the back of the memorial, which lists the names of the 543 soldiers from the Houston area who were killed in action in Vietnam.

The apparent matriarch of the group, a grey-haired lady wearing blue, gently reached out and touched one of the names.

Read about a Houstonian veteran who escaped the fall of Saigon--and one who didn't:

From War to America: Vietnamese Americans Share Stories at the New Houston Vietnam Veterans Memorial
During his seven-year term in a communist “re-education camp,” the only food Dong Nguyen received was one small bowl of rice per day. That’s the story he told on a quiet, 82-degree Memorial Day morning at the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Club Creek Park. Dong and his wife,


Tyess Korsmo, the Sharpener's editor-in-chief, moved to Sharpstown in 2019 to earn his Master of Liberal Arts at HCU, where he now teaches English and history. He also teaches English in a maximum-security prison.

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