Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Raleigh
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 Minish, an Army Vietnam veteran who served on the crew of a military 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
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.
City of Raleigh
May 23, 1987
35.780630 , -78.638510 View in Geobrowse
"Visit the North Carolina State Capitol," North Carolina Historic Sites, https://historicsites.nc.gov, (accessed April 9, 2019) 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 June16, 2020) Link
“Vietnam Vets Memorial to Be Dedicated,” The Evening Telegram (Rocky Mount, NC), May 21, 1987
Bronze statues, stone base
North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee
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.”
"After the Firefight"
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.
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.
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.
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.