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Disappointed Vet Quits War Memorial Committee

Uc Van Nguyen says the Vietnamese community wants it at the Civic Center but the City Council doesn't seem to.


Citing concerns that a Vietnam War Memorial may not end up at the Civic Center, a member representing Republic of Vietnam war veterans has resigned from the memorial's fund-raising committee.

Uc Van Nguyen, president of the board of directors of Coalition of the Veterans Assns. of the Republic of Vietnam in Southern California, said that the Vietnamese community favors having the memorial at the Civic Center and that the City Council seems opposed to the idea.

At a news conference Thursday at the Nguoi Viet newspaper's office, Nguyen announced that he would like to see Vietnamese community, youth and religious groups become a part of the committee and the memorial planning, because he believes he cannot guarantee its location.

"I have an obligation to the Vietnamese community, and I would like to let them know firsthand what is going on," he said. Nguyen said that after the council tried to move a ceremonial groundbreaking onto city property across from the Civic Center, the action appeared to indicate the council did not want the memorial among city buildings.

The groundbreaking media event, which was intended to help fund-raising, was canceled by the memorial committee after the council's March 14 vote to stage the event at the Civic Center was reversed at its next meeting. A vacant lot east of the center was proposed.

Some council members have expressed concerns about giving the impression that the Civic Center had been already chosen as the memorial site. Councilwoman Margie L. Rice said she has received complaints from residents with the same concerns.

Nearly $300,000 has been raised for the $500,000 memorial, which includes a 10-foot statue portraying an American soldier and a South Vietnamese soldier. Plans show that the statue will sit on a 5-foot base and have an information kiosk nearby.

Nguyen said the majority of the donations for the memorial have come from the Vietnamese community. "In the long run, it is the people [of the community] that will have to take care of the memorial."

Alex Murashko can be reached at (714) 966-5974.

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