Veterans Memorial Unveiled

6/14/2008 Fresno, CA "This monument is for those who for 40 or more years have grieved for loved ones lost so far away," VA Director Al Perry told the crowd.

The black granite monument sits outside of Fresno's VA Hospital. On one side, there is a map of North and South Vietnam. The other side shows a veteran, pausing at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C, which lists the names of nearly 58,000 men and women who died in the war.

But the veterans group that donated the Fresno monument said this one is different. "This one is for the living that live it every day. And when we come up here, we can see it, our families can see it. It will be educational for the children. It's just something we wanted for the future," said Vietnam veteran Rick Hanniford.

Veterans from all branches of the armed forces gathered for Saturday's dedication. They were joined by Hmong and Lao veterans, who also served in the war and now call the central valley home.

After the ceremony, many gathered around the monument, reminiscing about the faraway land where they fought an unpopular war. It took more than 40 years, but the veterans feel they're finally getting the respect they deserve. "I think this is the most overdue thing the San Joaquin Valley has got," said veteran Art Alvarez.

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