East Tennessee Vietnam vets honored with monument at World’s Fair Park

Veterans said it took three years to get the monument outside the Veterans Memorial.
Veterans said it took three years to get the monument outside the Veterans Memorial.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - East Tennessee Vietnam veterans were recognized at World’s Fair Park with a monument dedicated in their honor Tuesday. The monument has phrases such as ‘Welcome Home’ and ‘Some gave all, all gave some’ to remember their efforts overseas.

“Today is not just placing a monument at World’s Fair Park, today is making history,” Vietnam veteran Pat Polis said.

The monument took three years to get put in World’s Fair Park. Many Vietnam veterans said they remember the events of the war very well.

“You have memories that never go away. The sound of the huey, gunfire, and smells of napalm,” Polis said.

A huey is a type of helicopter that was used during the Vietnam War. Vietnam vets such as William Whitworth said memories during the war were hard, but when they came back it wasn’t much better.

“They weren’t treating them very nicely,” Whitworth said. “ I came in through San Francisco the first tour and I had civilian clothes because I didn’t want to look like the GI’s coming back.”

Whitworth doesn’t just have the memories as he looks back on the war. He also has his Silver Medal, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Crosses to remind him of what happened in Vietnam. Whitworth said the monument will be another reminder he is welcomed back home.

“It’s about time and I look forward to it. This is a fantastic monument, and it covers a lot of people here in East Tennessee,” Whitworth said.

According to the local Vietnam veteran chapter, 11,000 Vietnam vets live in the area. Polis hopes they can all make it to see the monument as a way of healing.

“We’ve all been there and we’ve all experienced it and that makes us all very much united,” Polis said.

The organization also presented a Quilt of Valor to Ron Kirby who helped spearhead bringing the monument to World’s Fair Park.

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