The Northern Westchester Examiner

Vietnam War Memorial Dedicated in Cortlandt

We are part of The Trust Project

A Vietnam War Memorial Monument was dedicated Friday on the front lawn of Cortlandt Town Hall.

Several hundred veterans and guests were in attendance at the ceremony to pay tribute to the 84 area Vietnam veterans who are listed on a large plaque that accompanies the black granite monument.

“We’re all so proud of this lovely memorial,” said Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi. “It was a very complicated, complex, difficult time for you veterans and everyone who grew up in that era. We got through it because of you veterans. We are in your debt.”

William Nazario, a Lance Corporal in the Marines during the Vietnam War and chairman of the Cortlandt Hudson Valley Veterans Committee, said he felt the same emotions seeing the Cortlandt memorial as he did when he visited the Vietnam wall in Washington, D.C.

“This is part of the healing process for us. Today we are getting our just due, the recognition we deserve,” Nazario said. “We, as warriors, don’t choose what conflicts or wars we want to participate in. No one can pass judgement on a veteran.”

More than nine million Americans served active duty in the Vietnam War era, which ended in 1973. Of the estimated 58,220 soldiers killed, 61% were 21 or younger.

Jerry Donnellan, an Army sergeant in the Vietnam War, talked about his harrowing experiences fighting in the conflict. On October 24, 1969, he was nearly given his last rites after a grenade was tossed near him, blowing off his right leg, shattering his left leg, fracturing his skull and breaking one of his arms.

“When we remember these folks, we have to remember what they actually went through,” said Donnellan, who is veterans service director for Rockland County. “The grunge, the mud and everything they saw before the lights went out. When we came home we weren’t the most popular people in the world. In recent years, Vietnam veterans have begun to speak.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.