Tuesday , February 06, 2018 - 5:00 AM2 comments
LAYTON — A multi-year effort to bring a large Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall to Layton has finally succeeded.
The wall will be approximately 80 percent of the size of the original national memorial in Washington, D.C., which was completed in 1981.
Dennis Howland, president of the Northern Utah chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, spearheaded the project. Work to secure the $500,000 needed for the project began in 2014 and the fundraising group has encountered several roadblocks along the way.
The wall is being constructed by a Texas-based company called American Veterans Traveling Tribute. To raise money, multiple fundraisers have been held during the past four years and Howland’s group sold personalized bricks that will be placed around the monument.
“We’ve been trying to fund this thing one brick at a time,” Howland said. “But we’ve also been able to get some help from private donors and from the Legislature, so we’re in good shape.”
The group approached the Utah Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee in early 2016, hoping to get a funding infusion of more than $200,000 from the state. That effort failed, but in 2017 the Legislature made a one-time appropriation of $100,000 to help fund the wall.
Howland said $450,000 has been raised so far, enough to pay for the wall and prepare the site for construction.
The names of all 58,000-plus Americans who died fighting in Vietnam will be etched into the 360-foot long wall. Howland said once the engravings are finished, the stone monument will be shipped in pieces to Utah. The project should be complete by the summer, Howland said, with a formal dedication ceremony tentatively set for July 14.
Layton City donated the land, will help with some of the construction and will donate some other infrastructure, according to Mayor Bob Stevenson. The city has backed the wall from the beginning and Stevenson has told the Standard-Examiner the structure will serve as a landmark and a tourist draw.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 28,000 Utahns served in Vietnam and more than 50,000 Vietnam veterans live in Utah today.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.