Honoring Sacrifice and Freedom

Organizers hope statue, which honors soldiers who died in Vietnam War, will promote cultural understanding

By Kathy Stephenson

The Salt Lake Tribune

WEST VALLEY CITY – A pair of soldiers stand side-by-side. One holds the
American flag. The other carries the colors of South Vietnam.

While they came from different countries, the two men in the Vietnamese
Freedom Alliance monument look in the same direction – a symbol of hope and
understanding between the two cultures.

The Vietnamese community in Utah spent four years collecting nearly $46,000
to build the life-size bronze statue, which was unveiled Saturday.

Sculpted by Utah artist Jeremy Hooley, the monument was built to remember the
South Vietnamese and the U.S. soldiers who died fighting North Vietnam and its
communist allies in the Vietnam War.

Organizers also hope that the statue, placed atop a concrete wall on the
south side of West Valley City’s Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100
South, will promote understanding between cultures.

“This statue recognizes what others have done so that you and I could become
friends,” said West Valley City Councilman Russ Brooks, one of several speakers
at the unveiling that included Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Thi
Quang Lam, a former South Vietnamese army general.

Unfortunately, a large portion of the midday ceremonies were cut short
because of threatening rain.

U.S. troops fought in the Vietnam War from about 1965 until an official
withdrawal in 1973. During that time, about 58,000 U.S. service men and women
were killed. Of those who died, 365 were Utahns. Millions of Vietnamese also
lost their lives.

Tom Huynh’s father, Chap, was one of those casualties.

Huynh, one of the thousands of refugees who came to America, had the idea for
the statue in 2003, while serving as president of Utah’s Vietnamese community
organization. He presented the idea to West Valley City in 2005.

“These two soldiers side-by-side looking into the future show the unity we
should feel toward each other,” said Huynh.

Chuy Dieu, of Salt Lake City, could have been the South Vietnamese solder in
the bronze statue. A former lieutenant colonel, he fought “shoulder-to-shoulder”
with U.S. soldiers for several years during the war.

“It’s a good reminder,” he said, “not to forget the sacrifices of our fallen
heroes.”

American veterans such as Frank Maughan of North Ogden appreciate the
recognition, too. Maughan did two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.

“It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who tried valiantly to help,” he
said.

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