Did you know that over 2,500 Irish Citizens served in allied military forces during the Viet Nam War, and that 29 of them, including one woman, an Irish nurse, lost their lives in that conflict?
These days in the United States there is considerable discussion regarding a “Path to Citizenship.” Back in the 60s and before, many Irish born immigrants to the United States needed to make a potentially life changing decision. Stay in the United States and be in our military or return home to Ireland or move elsewhere. The 2,500 Irish citizens who served alongside us in SE Asia realized that if they wanted to stay here and/or become a US citizen, their path was through military service. Twenty two of them, including one woman, paid the ultimate price.
Only one in ten U.S. citizens served in the military during the Viet Nam war. Many U.S. citizens found ways to avoid military service. Some left the U.S. Their decision profoundly affected their lives. These 2,500 Irish citizens knew that they had to earn US citizenship through sacrifice and were willing to risk their lives to achieve their goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.
The Irish Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Project is a single purpose non-profit organization consisting of volunteers who have committed to establishing a permanent memorial in Ireland to honor the 2,500 Irish citizens who served with the United States and allied services in South East Asia during the Vietnam War.
We believe that their service is deserving of this recognition. We hope that this project will not only memorialize their service but will facilitate the healing process for those men and women and their families who continue to bear the scars of their service. The memorial will be a gift to our brothers and sisters who served beside us during this most trying of times.
The project will raise funds which will be used to place a permanent memorial in the City of Ennis, County Clare, Republic of Ireland. The memorial will list the names of the twenty-nine individuals who lost their lives in the U.S., Australian and other allied operation in Viet Nam. Twenty-two of them were in the U.S. military.
The Ennis Town Council has already approved the project, identified a site and issued a solicitation for the design of the memorial. We have received the endorsement of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Virginia State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and other organizations. We are in the process of obtaining further endorsements. We have been approved by the IRS as a 501©(3) corporation and are now actively seeking further endorsements and financial support. Our goal is to install the memorial during November 2014.
Story provided by Brian McDonnell (Retired Federal Executive at Irish Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Project)