Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Angel Fire, NM
Following the death of their son, U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Victor David Westphall III, Jeanne and Dr. Victor Westphall of Angel Fire, New Mexico, began construction of the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel to honor his memory. First Lieutenant Victor Westphall III and 15 other soldiers died near Con Thien, South Vietnam, on May 22, 1968.
At that time, the the country was still involved in the increasingly controversial war in Vietnam, and building a memorial to honor veterans of that war was not popular. But "Doc" Westphall perservered, ultimately dedicating his life to honoring his son and the more than 58,000 others who died in Vietnam.
The Chapel was dedicated on May 22, 1971, the third anniversary of the death of First Lieutenant David Westphall. It was the first major memorial created to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War, ultimately inspiring the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., which was completed over ten years later, in 1982.
The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Angel Fire is the only United States State Park dedicated to Vietnam Veterans. The chapel and surrounding gardens and grounds provide a beautiful and peaceful space where veterans and visitors can rest and contemplate. Memorabilia from Vietnam and the times as well as thousands of photographs are available to view by the nearly 80,000 who visit the Memorial each year.
When the Memorial was originally built, the chapel was closed at night. One morning when Victor Westphall arrived to open the chapel, he found a veteran sitting in front of the door, crying. The man had made a sign which read, "Why did you lock me out when I needed this?" Since that day, the Memorial and chapel has remained open 24 hours a day to provide education and a haven for healing and reconciliation for veterans of Vietnam and all wars.
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Video