SILVERHILL, Alabama — About 60 residents turned out to honor Vietnam veterans during a special service held Monday, March 29 at the Silverhill Veterans Memorial.
The event, hosted by the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization, was held as part of National Vietnam War Veterans Day, created to honor veterans and their families who had served during the Vietnam War.
Created by the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act that was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017, March 29 commemorates the day in 1973 when the last of the U.S. combat units withdrew from South Vietnam.
“That was a little before my time so I was not around back then,” said Silverhill Mayor Jared Lyles. “But I just want to say on behalf of the city something that was not said nearly enough back then. Thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service.”
The Silverhill Veterans War Memorial was dedicated in March of 2017 as a way to honor all veterans, said SVMO President Frankie Kucera.
Three 4-foot by 8-foot stones with the names of 647 veterans from Silverhill and the surrounding areas were added to the memorial in December of 2019 and dedicated in January of 2020. An additional stone with 240 names is being prepared and the organization is in the process of gathering names for a fifth stone, Kucera said.
“Events like this is what this memorial is all about,” Kucera said. “We wanted this to be a place where all veterans were honored. This is a group of hard-working citizens who have come together to get things done and I am proud to have been a small part of it.”
For SVMO Vice President Dan Murphy, himself a Vietnam veteran, serving with the 1st Infantry Division from 1969-70, the day is about giving Vietnam veterans the respect and recognition they deserve.
“When I was drafted to serve, I had my father and four uncles tell me how proud they were of me,” he said. “They were all World War II veterans and told me how the American people treated them as royalty. When I served, most people didn’t agree with what we were doing and didn’t show that respect for us that those men received. Most of us went over there alone and came back alone. It’s just nice to see that we are finally getting that respect and recognition that we didn’t get back then.”
Following a prayer presented by SVMO member Bill Coley, several others were invited to speak during the ceremony, which closed with an invitation from several residents to pray for the country.
The annual Silverhill Memorial Car Show, hosted by the Gear Jammers Car Club, will be held Saturday, May 29 as a fundraiser for the memorial.
If you would like to donate to the project you can mail your contribution to the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization Inc., P.O. Box 94, Silverhill, AL 36576. You can also donate through the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization page on Facebook.
Forms are also available to add names to the memorial, Kucera said.