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Vietnam Veterans “Living Memorial” Dedicated

May 26, 1986

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A ″living memorial″ to Vietnam veterans, the first memorial to veterans of that war on an active military base, has been dedicated at the Presidio of San Francisco.

The memorial is called a living one because it includes a semicircular stand of Italian cypress trees that provide a backdrop for a plaque on a 5- foot-tall monument says.

The plaque reads, in part:

″You answered your country’s call with honor and courage, sacrificing your youth, ideals and expectations. We honor you for giving your all ... We will never forget you.″

The memorial was unveiled at the post chapel before 250 people.

″This is part of an ongoing process of healing and reconciliation between this nation and its Vietnam veterans,″ said Larry Connolly, president of the Vietnam Veterans Relief Project of Northern California.

A wreath of white chrysanthemums was laid at the foot of the monument and many members of the audience wiped tears from their eyes as John Caucutt, 24, sang ″The Big Black Wall,″ a song he and his brother wrote for his uncle, who was killed in Vietnam when Caucutt was 8 years old.

The memorial was designed by Ardyss L. Golden, a mother of four sons, three of whom served in the military.

″A lot of people saw Vietnam as a failure, but the real losers were the Vietnam veterans,″ said Col. Jerry Autry, the Protestant post chaplain who lobbied for the memorial for years.

Autry, 46, is the most dedicated chaplain in the U.S. Army. He holds the Silver Star, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and other medals for his combat service with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.

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