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In early 1983, some of our city's leaders in Texarkana came up with the idea to honor veterans from the Korean and Vietnam Wars from the Four States Area immediately surrounding Texarkana. Their plan was to build a memorial with the names of those killed and those still missing engraved upon it. These names would come from nine counties in Arkansas, three parishes in Louisiana, one large county in Oklahoma, and six counties from Texas. A United States flag and the flag from each of the four states would round out the memorial. Because of different reasons, they floundered with this idea for almost four years, before letting it die a slow death. In April 1987, the president of the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter, Gregory Beck, approached these leaders and asked if VVA #278 could take over where they had left off. After warning us that it was a dead issue and that we would be wasting our time, they reluctantly agreed to allow us to try.
After discussing the memorial at a couple of chapter meetings, we decided to stream-line the process and cut out the brother-in-law deals. They had originally had sixty-six people on six different committees and had an estimated cost of $150,000. We completely reorganized the Memorial committee involving only VVA #278 members. After completely re-designing the memorial plans, working with local craftsmen and suppliers, we cut the cost down to under $50,000, and we would have a much larger memorial.
After several months of largely unsuccessful fundraising events, we decided we needed to show the area folks we meant to build this memorial. Way short of the fundraising goal, we held our groundbreaking ceremony on July 25, 1988. It worked - funds and material donations started coming in. A local government contractor set the ball in motion with a donation of $5000.
By doing most of the labor ourselves (VVA #278) and with the donation from Ken Stewart to supply the granite at cost and donate almost $14,000 worth of engraving, things started coming together. One of our local brick companies (Acme) donated all the bricks needed, Carpenter Steel donated all the steel needed, and five local concrete companies went together and donated the concrete. Then it seemed like everyone wanted in on the action.
After several months of hot, hard work, shedding blood, sweat, and tears, it came together. Even though they said it could not be done, on November 12, 1988, VVA #278 dedicated the Korean/Vietnam Memorial in Texarkana.
The Korean/Vietnam Memorial is a 32-foot curved wall or bricks, concrete, and granite (black and gray) panels. One half is devoted to the Korean War veterans, and the other half to the Vietnam War veterans. On these two sides are engraved almost 400 names of our local heroes.
Five flagpoles fly the United States flag, the POW/MIA flag, the Arkansas flag, the Louisiana flag, the Oklahoma flag, and the Texas flag. Two four foot granite benches face the Memorial.
Since dedicating the Memorial, several additions have been made. A brick and steel barrier surrounds and protects the Memorial. On May 27, 1991, we dedicated our POW/MIA memorial which consists of a stainless steel POW/MIA bracelet measuring four feet across, one foot wide, and 1/4 inch thick (with appropriate description). This is all mounted on a brick pedastel.
In early 1992, a car accident destroyed the Dedication/Donors plaque, a 2' by 3' granite slab bricked in. On June 14, 1992, VVA #278 dedicated the Veterans Memorial addition which honors all the veterans of the 20th Century by war or conflict, listing the number killed, wounded, or unaccounted for from each war or conflict. This surrounds the replaced dedication/donors plaque.