A monument listing the names of the 100 Oakland members of the armed forces who were killed in the Vietnam War was dedicated at the Oakland Veterans Memorial Building Lake Merritt.
The unveiling ceremony took place during Memorial Day weekend.
Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 400, donated the memorial in commemoration of those whose sacrifice gives us the privilege and duty to continue their legacy of freedom and liberty.
Arnold Dos Santos, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, was master of ceremonies. In his opening remarks, he lamented that the absence of the Oakland and Alameda County elected officials was distressing.
Only Joshua Quigley, representing Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillén and Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer were in attendance.
Dos Santos asked the families and friends of those brave men to stand.
Fernando Valenzuela honored his brother, Army Pfc. Oscar Valenzela Jr., who was killed in Vietnam at age 19.
Retired U.S. Air Force colonel and Vietnam war veteran Conway Jones Jr. delivered the welcome address for the dedication.
Jones reflected that war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities – between 1 – 3 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed, between 240,000–300,000 Cambodians killed, and between 20,000–62,000 Laotians killed , as well as 58,148 U.S. service members who died in the conflict and 1,626 remain missing in action.
Jones quoted from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, saying “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Names of the 100 servicemen were read by Raymond Will, VVA Chapter 400,and Marinda Santos, daughter of a Vietnam veteran.
The ceremony concluded with the placing of a wreath at the monument and the playing of “Amazing Grace “and “Taps” by bagpiper Sgt. Jim Marsh.