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'A lot of my buddies are gone' says speaker at Vietnam War Memorial rededication

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    Rick Pethtel, president of the Vietnam Veterans of American Medina Chapter 385, speaks to the crowd at the Vietnam Memorial on Monday.


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    Veterans salute the flag as it is lowered at the Vietnam Memorial on Monday.


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    Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, is flanked by two of his daughters, Bree, 12, left, and Lily, 9, at the Vietnam Memorial rededication Monday.


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    The Vietnam Memorial was first dedicated in 1990. It was rededicated Monday. Its facelift is almost done, organizers say.



MEDINA —Rick Pethtel, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Medina Chapter 385, blamed Mother Nature for the delay of finishing the Vietnam Memorial

The memorial was rededicated Monday before about 150 people, but the renovations aren’t quite done at 210 Northland Drive.

“We had planned on completing it by today,” Pethtel said.

He said by Friday, he expects the bushes and soil to be finished. The 477 paver bricks are still being engraved and won’t be ready until the first week of June.

Pethtel, 70, said everybody has been touched in some way by Vietnam.

“Where were you in the ’60s?” he posed to the audience to remember the draft and the protests.

“A lot of my buddies are gone,” Pethtel said. “They gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Thirty-three of the veterans from Medina County died in the Vietnam War. Their names are inscribed in the memorial.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to those 33 men,” Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said.

When the Vietnam soldiers came home from the war, they weren’t welcomed.

“I apologize for that,” Hanwell said. “Many of them sacrificed their own lives for us.”

When the memorial was first dedicated, on March 27, 1990, there were almost 1,000 people at the ceremony.

Weather has taken its toll on the memorial and paver bricks and it was in desperate need of a facelift.

The renovation cost $90,000. Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and state Rep. Steve Hambley,

R-Brunswick, helped secure a capital grant of $60,000 for the project. The Vietnam Veterans of America had to raise $30,000 on its own in order to qualify for it.

It was able to raise the needed funds, but there were some disagreements within the ranks about what should be included in the project. Pethtel said the memorial is being turned over to the Medina County Veterans Services Office and Medina County.

“That’s my last hurrah,” he said previously.

Commissioners Bill Hutson and Colleen Swedyk, and Veterans Services Executive Director Ed Zackery were on hand for the ceremony.

Zackery said he wasn’t sure he wanted to take part in the ceremony with disagreement within the group. But he wanted to support the fallen soldiers.

He said the memorial is made of brick and mortar.

“It’s really about what’s in our hearts,” Zachery said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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