Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is based on an architectural rendering created by College of the Ozarks Alumnus Austin Meyer, bears the names of over 1,400 Missourians who served and died in the Vietnam War. It is located at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, just a short drive from Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale.
The project was a collaboration between the College and the PGA TOUR. C of O is an official charity of the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament. The College received $500,000 initially, and another $30,000 when they were named Charity of the Year by the PGA TOUR Champions in January 2015.
It was all part of an effort started by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 (Branson area). Bob Sarver, former President of Chapter 913, says his group was able to get the state of Missouri to sanction a new Vietnam memorial near Branson. The Vietnam Veteran says the area is perfect because of the appreciation shown to tens of thousands of veterans there each year.
With Missouri Senate Concurrent Resolution 43, legislators made this memorial the official Vietnam War Memorial for the state of Missouri. The resolution, which contained wording designating College of the Ozarks as the site, was sponsored by Senator David Sater from Missouri District 29, and was adopted in May of 2014.
College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said for some time that he had wanted to find a way to honor fallen servicemen and women in Missouri. After the College was named the official charity of the Legends of Golf Tournament, he knew this was an excellent opportunity.
"We appreciate the generous gift from Bass Pro Shops, which will be used to construct an appropriate memorial honoring those from Missouri who served and sacrificed on behalf of our nation," said President Davis.
The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial is another way to further the College's vision, which is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.
"It fits in philosophically with what this schools about," says Davis, "What this county should be about."
"Vietnam Veterans weren't treated properly upon their return from war. Such a memorial is long overdue and represents a proper tribute to those who served. We are pleased to join with Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913, friends at Bass Pro Shops, and the Champions Tour in making this a reality," said Davis.
Davis says in addition to the school donating the land, College of the Ozarks students helped build the memorial and will help to maintain it. He says students at his school also helped with the design.
"It's symbolic, you have the walls divided here, just like the nation was divided," says Davis referring to the split walls that surround a statue of soldiers. He says that in addition to the divided walls, the memorial will have a flowerbed in the shape of the letter "V" for "valor." Davis says the red flowers inside it will represent the blood shed by Missouri soldiers on the battlefield.
"We need to have that here in Branson," says Vietnam veteran Sarver, "It's going to help with the healing process."
The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be complete by the start of the 2015 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, which will be played April 24–26. An event to dedicate the new memorial is scheduled for April 22 at 2:30 at College of the Ozarks. It is open to the public and will be attended by families of the fallen, friends of the College, state and national dignitaries, and members of the community.