Story and photos by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The afternoon sun broke through the clouds just in time for Saturday’s dedication of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial at West Seattle’s Vietnamese Cultural Center, honoring both Vietnamese and American soldiers lost while fighting for that nation’s freedom.
Around 70 people, bundled up against the cold, showed up for the ceremony, which was presented in both Vietnamese and English. The dedication was held Saturday to commemorate the invasion of Vietnam’s Paracel Islands by the Chinese in January of 1974.
Veteran Vietnamese military leaders involved in the action were present, including Naval Lt. Commander Sai Nguyen (far right in photo), who gave a speech honoring those lost.
The ceremony included traditional drumming, a processional carrying names and photos of fallen soldiers, national-anthem salutes, offerings of burning incense, and speeches.
(Special thanks to Thach Nguyen for describing the ceremony’s program.)
The donor of the Fallen Heroes monument, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Dung, gave a speech saying, “Freedom comes from hard work and sacrifices. … Heroes named and unnamed are in the history of our people. … May God bless the USA and our beloved people.”
American veteran Dirk Klover (above) was asked to give an impromptu speech, during which he noted he served in 1969 and said, “I’m honored to share this with the Vietnamese community. This memorial allows the generations to follow to remember the sacrifices we made so they could live free.”
You can see the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial and the rest of the Vietnamese Cultural Center every Saturday, when it’s open to the public, noon-3 pm, at 2236 SW Orchard.