Although the Warner Robins City Council still hasn’t settled on a location for its new Vietnam memorial park, people can see an important part of it at City Hall.
Two bronze statues that will go in the park have been completed, and being that there is no place to put them just yet, the pieces were placed in City Hall on Thursday.
Several Vietnam veterans and others came out to see the statues placed in their temporary home, along with signs that warn people not to touch them. One is a common memorial, called a Fallen Soldier Battle Cross. It’s a set of boots with a rifle and helmet.
The other is one of a kind, called Survivor’s Guilt. It shows an anguished soldier sitting on a log holding three dog tags in his right hand and one in his left. The structure is meant to show the pain that a soldier feels when thinking about his friends who didn’t come home.
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“There’s always a certain amount of wondering why you made it and they didn’t, and that’s what we were trying to portray here with this sculpture,” said Tom McLendon, a Vietnam veteran who has been leading the effort to get the park built.
The three dog tags in the right hand are real dog tags from soldiers who died in Vietnam. The dog tag in the left hand was created for the statue and the name on it is Rodney Davis, Macon’s only Medal of Honor recipient. Davis jumped on a grenade during a battle in Vietnam, saving the lives of his fellow Marines nearby.
Mayor Randy Toms said he believes the city is close to having a site for the park, which will also be the location of a visitors center. He said he expects the site will be settled by the end of the year.
Having the statues in City Hall shows that the city is serious about building the park, he said.
“If anybody in our community deserves recognition, it’s Vietnam veterans — that were not treated as well as some veterans have been in the past,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be part of a community that wants to give honor to our Vietnam veterans, and we are so grateful for all that they did for our country.”
The park will also include a 32-foot black granite wall with the names of the 1,586 people from Georgia who were killed during Vietnam, as well as another monument with the names of those from Georgia who received the Medal of Honor for their service in Vietnam.
There is more to the Survivor’s Guilt statue than the statue. McLendon said the plan is to put boot prints in concrete around the park to depict places that the soldier depicted in the statue visited before sitting on the log to remember his comrades.
“We wanted to tell a story about the reason he was there,” McLendon said. “We didn’t want to have a memorial in Middle Georgia just to say we got a memorial. We want one that’s going to mean something and be one of the best in the nation.”