OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) - The Gulf Coast is a popular summer destination for a lot of us. And along with the sea and the sand, there is another destination we need to look for.
If you've driven the length of Highway 90 you have passed by it. But you should pop in and see it one day; The Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
On the Mississippi Coast, you are in a world dominated by shrimping and playing in the water and legends and lore.
In the midst of all of that is a memorial that, at first, might seem out of place; The Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Ocean Springs.
It doesn't seem to fit in with the ocean and the salt flats. The memorial is constructed within two huge concrete walls, on black granite. Listed are the names of 669 soldiers from Mississippi who were killed in battle in Vietnam.
There are photographs of all but 65 of them above their names. Now, why is it on the coast, or why it even exists at all. It exists because in 1988 the replica of the National Vietnam Memorial in Washington, the Moving Wall, came to Biloxi. Among the people who saw it were members of Mississippi's coastal Vietnamese community and they wondered what could be done to honor the Mississippians who gave their lives trying to establish democracy back in their homeland.
A call was made to the VA Center on the Gulf Coast, the idea presented, that idea was carried to Jackson, lots of people got on board,
A committee was created, plans were made, funds were raised and nine years later, in 1997, the Mississippi Memorial was dedicated. So that's the reason that the logical place for it is on the Coast since that's where the idea for it came from in the first place.
They seem like kids, don't they, most of them? A couple of my high school buddies are named and pictured here. They will stay forever young. But you can't help but think of the lives they missed being taken so early.
The city of Ocean Springs takes care of the grounds, the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Committee takes care of the memorial itself, including the addition of more names of Mississippians who may have been left off the official register for one reason or another, and the continual addition of photographs as they come available.
Eight new photos are being laser engraved on granite right now to be added. So the monument is an ongoing memorial, and worth a stop for a few minutes next time you're down that way in Ocean Springs.
The committee raises funds to pay for the photo engraving and upkeep by selling name-bricks for the sidewalk