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Flag Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


On a grassy knoll above the village of Angel Fire, New Mexico, is the first

tribute to the Veterans of the Vietnam War. Built on five acres belonging to

grieving parents of First Lt. Victor David Westphall III, who was killed in action on May 22, 1968. Victor and Jeanne Westphall spent three years building the chapel on the property they owned in Moreno Valley. This was fifteen years before Angel Fire would be organized. The father, a contractor, lived in a trailer on-site during construction. He later built a small apartment near the chapel. The couple spent the last thirty years of their

lives working on the memorial, which I think is much more impressive than

the one built in Washington, D.C. The memorial in Angel Fire now has

twenty-five acres to stroll its gardens, admiring bronze statues and artwork

or see the Viking Surprise. A small amphitheater and chapel are open 24/7

for meditation. The parents are buried on the property, their son at the

Santa Fe Military Cemetery. At the time of the memorial dedication May 22,

1971, many considered the memorial to be an anti-war protest. The father

said at the time “a gift to mankind with no strings attached, but I don’t know

what man will do with it.” In 2005, the state of New Mexico took over and

named it Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park.

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