Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The design of the Memorial earned the Kentuckiana Masonry Award in 1988 and the AIA Merit Award in 1995. Numerous periodical articles have been published about the Memorial, including British Sundial Society Bulletin, February 1993 and Southern Living, May 1994.
The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial overlooks the state Capitol and honors the 125,000 Kentuckians who served this nation so courageously and unselfishly during the Vietnam era (1962-1975). More than 58,000 Americans gave their lives during the conflict. Among that number, 1103 were Kentuckians. Thousands of those who served were wounded in action and hundreds are still listed as missing in action (MIA).
The veterans whose names are listed on this Memorial fought and died for the same values that inspired their ancestors since the Revolutionary War - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The blue-gray granite plaza of the Memorial contains the names of Kentucky’s 1104 citizens who died. Each name is precisely located so the shadow of the sundial pointer, or gnomon (pronounced ‘noman’), touches each veteran’s name on the anniversary of his death. Thus, each individual is honored with a personal tribute. Accordingly, every day is memorial day for a Kentucky Vietnam veteran. The Memorial’s unique design was created by Helm Roberts (1931-2011), a Lexington, KY architect and veteran. The ground breaking ceremony was held November 7, 1987 and construction was completed in late summer 1988. The Memorial was opened on November 11, 1988 and officially dedicated on November 12, 1988.
The area north of the winter solstice line is designated for ceremonies. The United States flag and the Kentucky flag are flown every day signifying the common bond among all who are memorialized here. These are the flags they knew when they served the nation. Special ceremonies are held on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day. The POW/MIA flag is also flown beneath the US flag in memory of POWs and MIAs from all wars and conflicts.
The Memorial is one of the largest granite memorials in the nation and contains 327 cut stone panels weighing more than 215 tons. The stone came from the Pyramid Blue quarry in Elberton, GA. The lettering of the names and dates are the same style used for official government grave markers throughout the nation, including Arlington National Cemetery.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built through the leadership, resolve, and perseverance of Vietnam veterans at a time when many people were deaf to the need for such a tribute. A few members of the General Assembly, the Executive Branch, and the National Guard also believed in and supported the project. The Memorial Foundation (KVVMF) is a non-profit 501(C)3 corporation that maintains the Memorial and grounds. No taxpayer dollars were used to build or maintain this site. The site was leased to the KVVMF “in perpetuity” by the Commonwealth.
The Memorial is open to visitors every day of the year. Since being dedicated in 1988, it has become one of the most visited landmarks in the Commonwealth. Schools, civic groups, tour groups, veteran groups and individuals visit the Memorial often to learn about the Vietnam War and the Kentuckians who served there.
The Capitol City Womens Garden Club has been hard at work again this spring. They have been wonderful volunteers through the years maintaining and beautifying the memorial.
The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial would like to express our utmost gratitude to Diane, Charlotta and all the volunteers for the years of care they've provided to the memorial.