May 24, 2002

Rededication of Veterans Museum and Memorial Center and Memorial Day Observances Set

The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park will be rededicated on Memorial Day, following a weekend of observances honoring San Diego area military veterans who have died defending our country.

The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center (VMC) is being dedicated on Monday May 27 at 1:30 p.m. to mark completion of extensive refurbishing. There will be a ribbon cutting, comments from Honorable Dick Murphy, mayor of San Diego, Bill Watkins of the Vietnam Veterans of America, a keynote address from San Diego City Councilwoman Toni Atkins, as well as displays, entertainment, a flag folding ceremony, and the playing of “Taps.”

In conjunction with the rededication, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 472, is hosting several weekend activities at the Center.

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 25 and 26, Vietnam veterans and others will read aloud the names of San Diego county residents who died or remain missing in Vietnam. There will be a candle light vigil on May 26 at 8 p.m. On May 27 at 8 a.m. the American Indian Warriors Association will provide a special blessing of the San Diego Peace Memorial, the group of pedestals with plaques containing names of those who died or remain missing in Vietnam.

All Memorial weekend activities at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center are free and open to the public. The Center is at 2115 Park Blvd. in Balboa Park.

“The public is invited to join us for as much of the weekend as they can,” says Will Hayes, chairman of the VMC rededication committee and member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 472.

The VMC renovation project has been under the supervision of Tom Splitgerber, VMC executive director and retired Navy captain.

As part of the renovation, the military theme, stained glass windows were enhanced; the oak floor returned to original splendor; new doors were installed; the rare three-religion revolving pulpit has been adopted for restoration by local Veterans groups; and sponsors are being sought to return the former chapel’s pipe organ to active use.

“The VMC is a community resource that provides a museum with educational exhibits, photos, old uniforms and displays about our Armed Forces, as well as a variety of services to military veterans,” Hay adds.

The San Diego Peace Memorial is one of the oldest memorials dedicated to Vietnam veterans in the country. It was initially dedicated in Old Town, San Diego, in 1969 to honor those who died or remain missing in Vietnam. The memorial was moved from Old Town and rededicated by the Vietnam Veterans of American, Chapter 472, on the grounds of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in 1996.

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