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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Raleigh

  • Type

    War Memorial

  • Subjects

    Vietnam War, 1960-1975

  • Creator

    Abbe Godwin, Sculptor

    Joel Meisner, Foundry

  • City

    Raleigh

  • County

    Wake

  • Description

    The memorial, entitled "After the Firefight" by sculptor Abbe Godwin, stands 6'3" tall, contains three bronze soldiers clad in uniform and holding their rifles close. Two of the figures carry their injured comrade to a landing zone to receive medical attention; the soldiers eye the sky, watching for an evacuation helicopter. The memorial honors more than 206,000 men and women of North Carolina who served in the Vietnam War and over 1,600 who died or are still missing. The face on the lead figure is that of Jim Munish, an Army Vietnam veteran who served on the crew of an attack helicopter.

    A fact sheet from the memorial committee explains: “The composition shows the intense caring that can be the result of the kind of situation that men face in war. One’s race, religion, social class, education, and other superficial things that sometimes separate, become totally irrelevant.”

    Images: Plaque near the memorial | Plaque on bench

  • Inscription

    Plaque near the memorial: NORTH CAROLINA VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL / DEDICATED TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF NORTH CAROLINA / WHO SERVED WITH DIGNITY AND HONOR IN THE VIETNAM WAR / DEDICATED ON MAY 23, 1987

    Plaque on bench near memorial: TO HONOR / GENERAL ALFRED M. GRAY / UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS / WHO DEDICATED THIS / VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL / ON / MAY 23, 1987 / AND / MAY 26, 2007 / NORTH CAROLINA VIETNAM VETERANS, INC.

  • Custodian

    City of Raleigh

  • Dedication Date

    May 23, 1987

  • Decade

    1980s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.780630 , -78.638510 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Vietnam Veterans Memorial," Flickr, (accessed June 25, 2012) Link

      Hagopian, Patrick. The Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), 288-289 Link

      Leepson, Marc. "The Tar Heel State Honors its Vietnam Veterans," The VVA Veteran, June 2001/July 2001, (accessed January 21, 2014) Link

      “3,500 Gather to Dedicate State’s Vietnam Memorial,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), May 24, 1987

      “Salute to Vietnam Vets Set,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), May 22, 1987

      “Vietnam Monument at State Capitol Dedicated 1987,” This Day in North Carolina History, NC Natural and Cultural Resources, May 23, 2014, (accessed November 3, 2017) Link

      “Vietnam Vets Memorial to Be Dedicated,” The Evening Telegram (Rocky Mount, NC), May 21, 1897

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze statues, stone base

  • Sponsors

    North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee

  • Monument Cost

    $230,000

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The monument was dedicated during the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Salute on May 23, 1987. Governor James G. Martin was present as were representatives from embassies allied with the United States and South Vietnam during the war. Monument committee chair, John W. Saputo, told the veterans gathered that the monument would “unearth all the Vietnam ghosts and demons you thought were locked in the recesses of your brain.” He continued by telling them to “Locate, close with and destroy those ghosts and demons. This state and its people need the inner strength Vietnam gave you.”

  • Nickname

    "After the Firefight"

  • Subject Notes

    The monument was the first on the Capitol grounds to have been authorized since 1948 when the monument to Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation had been placed and was the first to be sculpted by a woman. It was also the first on Union Square to depict an African American. The sculptor, North Carolina native Abbe Godwin, has been recognized nationally for her work. During the five “remarkable” years she worked on "After the Firefight" she immersed herself in the conflict, collecting artifacts, reading histories and literature from the period extensively and talking to Vietnam veterans. The clothing and equipment of the soldiers portrayed were sculpted from items loaned to the artist by Vietnam veterans. Other sculptures by Godwin include Corpsmen Memorial, the Peacekeeper statue at the Beirut Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. statue.

  • Location

    The monument is near the Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation monument and is located near the intersection of East Edenton Street and North Wilmington Street.

  • Landscape

    The memorial is located on top of a rocky platform on a semi-grassy, semi-concrete spot with a pathway leading to the monument. Near the pathway is located a grassy plain and several medium-sized trees.

  • Post Dedication Use

    The North Carolina Vietnam Veterans organization honors the POW/MIA victims of the Vietnam War monthly on the first Saturday around noon. On Christmas, the Veterans hold a candlelight service.

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