Houston resident Nancy Bui holds a collage a photographs showing the early stages of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument, featuring the likenesses of four Americans and a South Vietnamese soldier.
But the design approved by the six member State Preservation Board Friday doesn’t feature the South Vietnamese soldier, rather an Asian American G.I. instead. The board consists of Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX), House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), state Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) and citizen member Cris Crouch Graham.
With Eltife absent, all but Geren and Graham were represented by staff members. The board voted unanimously to approve a 2010 design which replaced earlier versions going back to the original 2005 idea. The vote came after nearly two hours of testimony, the majority of which was offered by members of the Vietnamese American community.
“I feel like they really disrespect Vietnamese Americans,” said Anh Tran with the Vietnamese American Armed Forces Association. “The Vietnamese American served with the U.S. vet. So they should be honored the same, because we Vietnamese Americans, now we are Texan.”
Scores of Vietnamese American veterans who fought for the South Vietnamese forces arrived for Friday morning’s hearing. In starched dress uniforms and combat fatigues, dozens lined up to plead for the original design. Many said they were excited and honored by the original design, only to be left confused and hurt after it was changed.