The Vietnam War Memorial will break ground in 2018 in the Southeast Asian Argyle area in Uptown Chicago, a historical neighborhood known as the port of entry for immigrants and refugees. The Vietnam War Memorial project is spearheaded by the Vietnamese Veterans Association of Illinois and Mr. Tam Van Nguyen, a long-time leader in the Vietnamese community in Chicago, with tremendous support from Alderman Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward. The design of the memorial was created in collaboration with the Vietnamese Veterans Association and John Lee of Axis Lab. The memorial stands as a commemoration for those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and as an educational symbol for younger generations to remember the tragedies of war and imagine a different world.
Over 1.3 million people died in the Vietnam War-- over one million were Vietnamese civilians and military personnel from north and south Vietnam, over 53,000 were U.S. military, and 3,000 soldiers were from Illinois. According the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the war resulted in over 3 million refugees from 1975-1995, many of which escaped by boat risking their lives at sea.
In Chicago in the early 1980s after the Vietnam/American War, thousands of refugees from Vietnam including those of ethnic Chinese descent began the start of a community business district including restaurants, grocery stores, jewelry stores, and community centers. The Vietnam War Memorial will be built in the Argyle community to honor the lives of those who passed and survived fighting for freedom. The memory of the war is critical to the area, as the neighborhood was built in the aftermath of war as a testament of the will to survive and thrive in a new country.