By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer
More than 20 years ago, Vietnam veteran Earl Corell began an uphill fight to honor fellow veterans of that unpopular war with a memorial in Cincinnati.
In April, Earl Corell of Anderson Township will help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eden Park.|
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
On April 8, 1984, a crowd of about 2,500, including a representative of the White House, attended the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eden Park.
Now, the 55-year-old Corell is planning a 20-year anniversary observance of the dedication. The event is scheduled for Sunday, April 4, 2004 - 04-04-04.
"I think this is going to be bigger that the original dedication 20 years ago. I think it's going to be double the people," said Corell, an Anderson Township resident.
He said public sentiment regarding the Vietnam War and Vietnam veterans has changed for the better over those years.
"I believe there's lots of support."
An invitation to the dedication has been sent to the White House.
"I hope it's the President (who attends)," said Corell, a 1968 graduate of Western Hills High School who was drafted into the Army in 1969 and served in Vietnam in 1970-71 driving a truck transporting jet fuel.
The 6-foot-high memorial, which depicts two foot soldiers emerging from the jungle, was created by Cincinnati artist Ken Bradford and cast in bronze by Cincinnati bronze specialist Eleftherios Karkadoulias.
Karkadoulias will be doing a little refurbishing of the memorial before the dedication, Corell said. Some caulking of the base, and an application of two coats of patina to protect the bronze should have the memorial in great shape for the dedication. The 60-foot-high flagpole at the memorial will be sanded and painted.
"This is a dream come true," Corell, then president of the Cincinnati Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, said when the memorial was dedicated in 1984.
The dream started when the Vietnam veteran decided that there should a local Vietnam War memorial to honor those who served from Greater Cincinnati. But it was dream made difficult by widespread anti-Vietnam war sentiment that still lingered in the 1980s.
"The Vietnam War put American patriotism in limbo. It was almost like fighting the Vietnam War over again,'' he said of the effort he and others put out to raise the $80,000 for the memorial, the refurbished flagpole and a maintenance fund.
But a weekend radiothon on WSAI-AM got the ball rolling with $27,000 in pledges, and corporate donations followed.
"I wanted the public to pay for it,'' said Corell, a deputy sheriff with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. "I thought veterans had already paid a lot."
"Earl was the person responsible for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial," said Bill Fee, who worked with Corell to raise the money to pay for the memorial. "He conceived the plan. He got the sculptor on line. He worked with the park board."
And it wasn't an easy task at the time, said Fee, who also is a Vietnam veteran..
But Corell persevered.
"Earl had been a persistent person who has fought to see the Vietnam veteran was remembered appropriately," Fee said. "Earl is someone who continues to fight for the memory of Vietnam veterans."
Corell believes the memorial has served its purpose well.
"Every time I go up there, I see veterans,'' he said.
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