50th anniversary of final troop withdrawal
A monument commissioned by the Richard Nixon Foundation memorializing all members of the U.S armed forces in the Vietnam War was dedicated this week at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 500-pound bronze monument with traditional patina depicts a Marine running through the jungles of Vietnam in 1971-72, when Nixon was president. The Marine is carrying an M16 A1 rifle with a birdcage tip and wearing a two-layered helmet with bug juice, a rolled-up long-sleeve shirt, bandoleer with ammunition pouches, standard pants, mud-covered jungle boots and has a towel around his neck.
The monument also depicts three canteens, a backpack, flack jacket, hand grenades with holders, over-the-shoulder gun belt and pockets full of other supplies.
The research and creative process for designing the Vietnam Veterans Monument started in August when the Nixon Foundation formed a committee of Vietnam veterans, a Gold Star family member from the war, Ron Pekar, the monument's artist, and members of the Nixon Foundation senior staff, according to Joe Lopez, the foundation's vice president of marketing and communications.
Committee members visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia and the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Museum in San Diego for research and design, Lopez said.
Pekar also made the Traveler statue at USC and “The Handoff'' sculpture at the Rose Bowl.
Robert Wilkie, the secretary of Veterans Affairs from 2018-21, spoke at the ceremony where he greeted all Vietnam veterans in attendance. The men and women each received the national official Vietnam veteran lapel pin.
The ceremony coincided with National Vietnam War Veterans Day and comes on the 50th anniversary of the day the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam.