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Wentzville unveils updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans

The Vietnam War memorial in Wentzville has been expanded and now includes lighting and landscaping. May 2017
Provided by city of Wentzville

The city of Wentzville will cut the ribbon on an updated memorial to Vietnam War veterans at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The city recently expanded the memorial site and added landscaping, lights, and a ramp, so disabled veterans can visit. The memorial is at 209 W. Pearce Blvd., next to the fire department.

Mayor Nick Guccione says the memorial is the oldest Vietnam memorial in the nation and means a lot to his community.

“Our veterans are very important to us,’’ he said.

Residents began the tribute 50 years ago, while the Vietnam War was still raging on, according to a history provided by the city. In December 1967, they placed a tree of lights at the site to raise money to send Christmas gifts to local servicemen serving in Vietnam. A year later, a 30-foot tree was planted at the site, and local artists provided a sculpture.

The current memorial, a column of red Missouri granite topped with a carved eagle, was erected in 1984 and rededicated in 1993.

When the landmark began showing signs of wear a few years ago, the community supported the city’s decision to spend $90,000 on renovations, Guccione said. The Wentzville Fire Protection District donated the land for the expansion, and local businesses and veterans groups also contributed.

Veterans, including members of the Wentzville VFW and American Legion, will participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On Monday, several hundred motorcyclists taking part in the annual “Run for the Wall” are expected to stop at the site on their cross-country trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.   

The memorial also attracts motorists driving by on Interstate 70, Guccione said.

“We get a lot of visitors who come to our town and just stop and pay homage and pay respect,’’ he said.

Follow Mary Delach Leonard on Twitter: @marydleonard

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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