SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The National Association for Black Veterans holds a ceremony at the Mason Square Vietnam Veterans Memorial every year, but this year the monument has become eligible to become a local, state, and national historically preserved property.
Dozens of veterans, their family and friends were in Mason Square Saturday morning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, remembering 50 veterans from Western Massachusetts who lost their lives in Vietnam.
The National Association for Black Veterans said this monument is the only one of it’s kind, specifically recognizing African American veterans of the Vietnam War.
50 years ago veteran Skip Williams raised the funds to erect the monument after a friend was killed in the line of duty. Today the monument is eligible to become a local, state. and national historically preserved property, and Skip was honored at the ceremony for his work that made the monument possible.
Williams said “I tell you what, it means freedom. When I put that up 50 years ago, we thought it was just gonna be sitting there and that was that, you know? But when they called me and told me hey, you know that monument you put up? I said yeah, They said they’re thinking about making it a national monument. I said you gotta be kidding me”.
Saturday’s ceremony payed tribute to veterans of all foreign wars, as well as the fifty local veterans killed in Vietnam.
Milton Jones, a veteran and Springfield resident, said “We know these men. At least two of them I grew up with, and so it’s very personal. You know I know at least one would not consider himself a hero, and would probably say I don’t know what they’re celebrating me for. On the other hand, I think they would be proud”.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, state representative Bud Williams and other members of the Springfield community payed their respects at Saturday’s ceremony.