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Remote monument honors Indo-China Veterans

Posted: Thursday, Aug 14th, 2014

Photo by Teresa Benns This little-known Indo-China war memorial is situated high in the Rio Grande National Forest in northwest Saguache County.

SAGUACHE COUNTY — High in the Rio Grande Forest a little-known monument to veterans of the Indo-China wars rises against a background of towering evergreens and pines ranged against a jagged mountain range in the distance.

The drive to the monument is a long and careful one with many rough spots, not unlike what troops in the different wars of Indo-China must have encountered in their advances on the enemy on countless occasions.

Nothing but the breath of rustling pines and the occasional animal call can be heard across the wide meadow where the monument stands. Placed in successive circles around the memorial tower are stones bearing French, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese and American verses commemorating the various wars. Some may have forgotten these wars, but the marker stands in remembrance.

The idea behind its construction was to keep it hidden and humble, far from the teeming cities that would rob it of its peace. According to Internet reports, it was conceived by U.S. Army Colonel Stuart Beckley to honor the veterans of all the Indo-China conflicts. As he was terminally ill, Beckley could not complete the monument, or so the story goes. Unconfirmed reports credit the Army Corps of Engineers with its completion.

Information on the memorial’s background is hard to discover because it was not intended to be a public monument. Nevertheless, not honoring it and those it was intended to honor seems contrary to the very reason it was erected.

For those who served there yet know nothing of its existence, and for those who now are too old or perhaps disabled and cannot ever hope to visit there, this stands as a tribute. And to all those who gave their lives in these wars, may they rest in peace.

For the complete article see the 08-14-2014 issue.

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