Saturday, July 28, 2012

Enchanted Circle, Part II ~ Angel Fire ~ Vietnam Veterans Memorial

If you take US-64 East from Taos, you will come to the popular resort town of Angel Fire, probably best known for it's ski slopes. 
Hwy 434 will take you to the slopes or, stay on 64 heading north, and you will quickly be at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Since we had only a day to complete our circle, and even though the resort has year round activities, we decided to visit the Memorial.
Dr. Victor Westphall and his wife Jeanne began construction on the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel to honor the memory of their son, Marine Corps First Lieutenant Victor David Westphall III, and the 15 men who died with him near Con Thien, South Vietnam on May 22, 1968. The Chapel was dedicated exactly 3 years later.

Victor David Westphall III
It was the first major memorial to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War and "Doc" Westphall dedicated his life to the Memorial.
Doc Westphall
Over the years Doc Westphall and the David Westphall Veterans Foundation sought permanent sources of funding. Ownership was turned over first to the Disabled American Veterans who constructed the visitors center and purchased 25 additional acres of land to serve as a buffer zone from further development.
Later Doc Westphall reached an agreement with the state of New Mexico to make the Memorial a state park with three conditions.
Huey "Viking Surprise" & "Dear Mom & Dad" sculpture
First, if the state ever decides to stop operating the Memorial as a state park, ownership again returns to DWVF.
These bricks commemorate all veterans. New bricks are added every September.
Second, the park can not charge visitors a fee.
Third, the chapel must remain open 24 hours a day. When Doc Westphall was building the chapel, he locked the doors at night. One morning when he returned he discovered a note had been scrawled on a piece of scrap plywood. It said, “Why did you lock the doors when I needed to come in?” Since then the doors have never been locked.