Remembering Vietnam veterans Granite tower: Baltimore, Harford counties honor sons who died in their country's service.

November 16, 1995

TWO DECADES after the United States ended its tortured engagement in Vietnam, the memorials to this country's military dead in that war are still rising in solemn remembrance.

On a blustery, overcast Veterans Day morning, Baltimore County broke ground by the Old Courthouse in Towson for a black granite tower and a small fountain pool that will honor the 123 men from the county who gave their lives in the Vietnam conflict.

Their names will be carved on a marble marker on the six-foot tower, with a nearby stone bench for visitors to reflect on the monument. Next Veterans Day, the finished memorial will be dedicated.

Plans to erect a Baltimore County Vietnam Veterans Memorial began two years ago, through efforts of Vietnam veteran Michael Mann and the memorial commission headed by Councilman Douglas B. Riley. Avery Harden designed the tribute.

Located on county grounds, the Vietnam memorial is essentially a private volunteer project. The $30,000 to build the tribute will come from private donations; no tax money will be used. Genstar Stone Products contributed the marble and will pay for engraving.

The task of tracking down and verifying the names of those entitled to be listed on the tower was also volunteer duty. Starting with a few dozen names on the Maryland and National Vietnam memorials, the volunteers finally compiled a roster of 123. One difficulty was determining whether soldiers claimed Baltimore City or Baltimore County as their home.

Harford County honored its Vietnam veterans this year with the renaming of a section of Route 24 from Bel Air to Edgewood as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway. The state's official action followed a joint resolution by the county and the state legislature.

Meanwhile, the Harford veterans commission is planning a monument-park featuring a helicopter of that war. The county will offer potential sites for the memorial early next year.

The Vietnam war still stirs up radically different emotions in the U.S. but the losses of those who served in uniform remain engraved in the hearts of their families, friends and surviving comrades in arms. These public memorials are but tokens of such private remembrances.

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