ERLANGER, Ky. — The City of Erlanger is taking over maintenance of the City’s Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, ensuring that Vietnam War veterans from Erlanger and Kenton County will be properly honored and remembered for years to come.
The War Memorial, located at the intersection of Dixie Highway and Commonwealth Avenue, has not fallen into disrepair. But it has become more difficult for members of Vietnam Veterans of America Bluegrass Chapter #88 – which originally erected the memorial in the early 1980s – to maintain the Memorial.
“The city is really stepping up by taking over the maintenance of the War Memorial,” said Ron Allari of the Vietnam Veterans of America Bluegrass Chapter #88. “Our group is getting older, and it’s hard to get people to help take care of the memorial. And our fundraising is extremely limited. So, we absolutely appreciate what the city is doing.”
The city of Erlanger owns the property where the memorial is located, and the Vietnam Veterans of America own the actual Memorial. It features three pieces of black marble – two engraved with the names of the deceased – a brick walkway and three flags, an American flag, POW/MIA flag and the flag of Vietnam Veterans of America Bluegrass Chapter #88 post.
“Maintaining a Memorial to those who gave their lives so that the rest of us can live in a free and safe country is the very least we can do,” said Erlanger Mayor Jessica Fette. “As we prepare to once again celebrate Memorial Day, I know I speak for the entire City of Erlanger in expressing our deepest gratitude and respect for those whose names are engraved on the memorial and who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
As in past years, the Ralph Fulton VFW Memorial Day Parade – which is sponsored by VFW Post 6423 – will stop at the Memorial when the parade returns to Dixie Highway at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 31. Last year’s parade was cancelled last year to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is always a special moment when the parade stops at the memorial,” Allari said. “All of the names of those on the Memorial are read out loud to remind everybody that these boys gave their lives for their country.”
Allari, who spent 21-years as a U.S. Army pilot and unit commander and who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, said the Memorial only requires basic maintenance such as cutting weeds, pruning trees, tending to the landscaping, and keeping the area clean of debris.
“I go about every three weeks or so to clean up the trash and sweep it down,” Allari said. “But in our group, we are all getting older and it’s getting tougher for us to give the Memorial the proper care it deserves. For instance, when the trees grow out and have to be cut back so they aren’t catching all the flags, that is something that is just too difficult for us to do anymore. What the city is doing is a big help.”
Erlanger is also honoring military veterans through The Erlanger Salutes Armed Services program, which is once again offering banners that will be displayed Memorial Day through Veteran’s Day on street utility poles throughout the city.
The purpose of the program is to recognize and honor individuals on active duty, living, retired, and deceased service personnel by displaying the honoree’s photo, name, and armed service branch on a banner.
Each banner will be displayed for three years, after which they will be returned to the sponsored family. A maximum of 60 banners will be on display per year. The cost of a banner is $100. To learn more about the program or to purchase a banner click here or log on to: https://erlangerky.gov/erlanger-salutes-u-s-armed-forces/