Saturday, August 21, 2010

25 year Anniversary of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Parade that took place in June of 1986 - Jane Byrne Should Be Acknowlegded

"During the Vietnam War, you didn't come home with your buddies," said Tom Stack, chairman of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Parade Committee. "You got off the plane, trashed your uniform and went home through the back alley. They are coming to this parade to reunite with the rest of America."
. . . Sitting in a chair in Grant Park, Steve Benson, 37, of Freeport, Ill., watched with his son, Mike, as the parade came to an end. "I wanted to show my son the closeness and friendships between the veterans," Benson said, "and I wanted him to meet guys that I fought with and know what we went through. . . . I think after today, I'll be able to talk about it a little more openly with him than in the past. I feel like I have had a ton of bricks taken off me. I've cried and I wasn't alone.",0,1630969.storyBy Ted Gregory -Chicago Tribune June 1986

America woke up for a bit. America remembered to remember the men and women who fought and bled for our country in Vietnam. Leo Alumnus and Chicagoan Tom Stack organized and Chaired the first Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home. The Parade was stunning in size scope and dignity.

I remember that Mayor Jane Byrne was instrumental in honoring Vietnam Veterans.

I went on line to verify this fact and really came up blank except for this one single item. It's very interesting.

The following information came from the VVAW (Viet Nam Vets. Against the War) of all places. It can be verified in the VVAW Spring issue, 2006, Vol.36, Number1. Authored by Ken Nielsen: (N.B. - I am not a Veteran or affiliated in any way - I became a high school teacher in 1975 -right out of Loyola University: I had decent a draft lottery number 118 and Selective Service status of 1-A - Fortunate Son of a . . .) At the time that Byrne dedicated the memorial, I was hot-blooded States Attorney Richie Daley partisan, but admired the gesture of Chicago's Mayor Byrne, who had lost her husband and the father of her daughter - a Marine pilot.

In 1982 mayor Jane Bryne and Cardinal Bernardin celebrated the completed construction of the first Viet Nam Memorial in the country in a large city. It was located in Chicago at the proximity of Wacker Dr. and Wabash. It included a time capsule...until 1998.

This event was held at various locations in the city over the years until 1982, when Mayor Jane Byrne and Cardinal Bernardin dedicated the first Vietnam War memorial in the country, at the intersection of Wacker and Wabash. The memorial contained a time capsule that listed all of the names of soldiers from Chicago who died in Vietnam. From that day forward, VVAW's ceremony was fittingly conducted at the memorial; that is, until the current mayor, Rich Daley, decided to reconstruct Wacker Drive in 1998 and proceeded to lose the nation's first Vietnam War memorial. Despite all of the city's excuses, let's just recall that Jane Byrne's name was on the memorial, not Daley's. The mayor's solution to this small reminder of his family's short lapse of control over Chicago was to destroy an important and historically significant memorial, and then build his own. In the words of Barry Romo, "Not only was this city the first city to have a city memorial to Vietnam vets, we were also the first city in the world to lose a memorial."

Mayor Daley (current) decided to reconstruct the memorial when he took office from Jane Byrne in 1998. At this time the capsule was "lost" and the name of Jane Bryne was removed from everywhere possible in the City of Chicago.

I am having trouble veryifing anything through "Google" and would like to read more about the history of this Memorial. I'd appreciate assistance on this if anyone has the time to search. I too shall continue and shall post anything I find to you.

I noticed that the City of Chicago is on the letterhead of the Parade Committee as is R. Daley a listed honoree.This seems rather inappropriate in consideration with the above information. Unless, of course, Jane Byrne is also credited for her veteran support and restored to the originating mayor responsible for the FIRST memorial in the U.S.A. , if it's veritable.

I hope that Jane Byrne is recognized at the 2011 Chicago Anniversary Parade.

Here is the plan thus far from the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Committee:

It will be a three Day event: June 11th Saturday, June 12th Sunday, June 13th Monday, 2011. These dates are not locked in.
This is what was planned or being talked about for those days, and not in any particular order:
1) Art Show – pictures taken by Vietnam Veterans and their families during
the June 13th, 1986 Parade in Chicago – they will be CD’s or 11 X 14 photos.
These displays will be at the Vietnam Veterans Art Museum 1801 S. Indiana,
and a very good possibility at other venues in the City of Chicago and
surrounding Suburbs. Example: Oak Park, IL. Library, The Chicago Cultural
Center at Randolph & Michigan, and other areas to yet be determined.
2) A Dinner to honor Tom Stack, Gene Connell, Col. Plummer – who have since
passed but were on the executive committee of the Welcome Parade. To be done
at a major hotel in downtown Chicago.
3) A Concert at Millienium Park – with bands such as Dennis DeYoung. Lt. Dan
Band, The Four Tops and others. This will be the Vietnam Veterans tying
together the Welcome Home of the Iraqi/Afghanistan Veterans, and passing the
torch to the next generation of Veterans, and the Never Again one Generation
forgetting the next Generation of Veterans.
*Now this might also take place at Navy Pier – it will depend on a lot of

Mayor Jane Byrne, I believe, should be a huge part of the 25th Anniversary of Vietnam Welcome Home Parade. What do you Vietnam Veterans and Heroes think of that?

Also from the Tribune in 2005 -someone else asked-

Where did Byrne's vet plaque go?
April 27, 2005|By From news services.
Work has begun on a new plaza near Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue that will house a revamped Vietnam veterans' memorial, but the issue of the "Jane Byrne plaque" remains.

Byrne was mayor when the memorial was dedicated in 1982, and she has said that the plaque, which bore her name, was removed in 1996 in favor of a replacement inscribed with the name of Richard M. Daley, the current mayor and a longtime Byrne political foe.

The memorial, which sat in the middle of Wacker at Wabash, was disassembled and stored a few years ago in advance of the Wacker Drive reconstruction project and its future relocation to the new plaza bordering the Chicago River.

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