Memorial honoring Vietnam veterans unveiled

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 11/17/21

Memorial honoring Vietnam veterans unveiled

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com

Gulf Shores High School students unveiled a memorial honoring Vietnam veterans ahead of Veterans Day. …

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Memorial honoring Vietnam veterans unveiled

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Gulf Shores High School students unveiled a memorial honoring Vietnam veterans ahead of Veterans Day. The memorial is part of the Turtle Tracks public art project and is located on the grounds of the Gulf Shores Museum.

Students in the Advanced Placement History and Advanced Placement Language and Composition program at Gulf Shores High School said they were moved by their studies of the Vietnam Conflict and Cambodian Genocide. Those studies inspired them to honor local Vietnam veterans and to create a turtle in their honor as part of the Turtle Tracks program.

The students took the lead on the community art project and designed and funded the project. In May 2021 they visited Gulf Shores City Council to seek approval to place the memorial on the Gulf Shores Museum grounds. The Gulf Coast Arts Alliance and the Turtle Tracks program provided the 4-foot-tall fiberglass sea turtle statue and the students visited community events to raise donations.

The unveiling ceremony Nov. 9 started with a presentation of the colors by Gulf Shores High School’s Navy ROTC color guard and the Pledge of Allegiance. Gulf Shores councilperson Steve Jones thanked everyone for attending and opened with an excerpt of the poem “The Final Inspection” in lieu of an invocation.

He then introduced two of the students involved in the project, Lilly Reeves and Jose Perez.

“Thank you for coming to the unveiling of our Vietnam Memorial. Not many high school students can say they have done something like this, go to a museum of your hometown and see something that your class created, and it is there honoring people who put their life on the line for you,” Reeves said. “I think I can safely say for my classmates that we view veterans with an entirely new perspective. We respect them far more now that we know the magnitude of their sacrifices for us. I hope that as veterans visit our memorial, they see that they not only earned the respect from students at Gulf Shores High School, but they earned the respect from this entire island and who ever may visit it.”

“A question I asked myself was what is a veteran,” Perez said. “To many people it’s someone that has served in the military but to me and my classmates a veteran is more than that. It is the foundation of our country from the very beginning. They are heroes that are among us that sometimes go unrecognized and go without recognition.”