BASTROP, Texas — Forty years after President Richard Nixon announced the end of U.S. offensive operations against North Vietnam, a monument to the half-million Texans who served and the 3,417 who died as a result of the war is taking shape.
Groundbreaking for a Texas Vietnam Veterans Monument is set for early this year in Austin with installation on the state Capitol grounds by late 2013. The bronze monument is now under construction at a Central Texas foundry.
"The inspiration we had is there is a monument to Texans who have served all the way back to the Alamo," says Robert Floyd, chairman of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.
Besides remembering the Alamo, the 22-acre Capitol building site already hosts memorials to those who fought in the Civil War, the two World Wars and in Korea.
A working clay model that eventually will become the Vietnam War monument nearly fills the gallery at the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop, about 30 miles east of Austin.
What will be a 14-foot-tall structure — including a rose-colored granite pedestal to match the color of the Capitol building — features five men representing the five military branches. They include a Caucasian, Hispanic, African, Asian and Native American and show them as a radio operator, a medic, a wounded person, a sniper and an ordinary military grunt. The five, depicted about 1½ times actual size, are shown in action on the remains of a temple.
"There are no insignias on the figures, to represent the brotherhood of patrol," said Floyd, an Austin-based lobbyist who spent a year in Vietnam with 101st Airborne in 1969-70 and who's been involved with the project since the idea surfaced nearly a decade ago. "It's to be a composite of all those who served."