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Monument pays tribute to Canadian Vietnam Veterans

April 2019

In Assumption Park in Windsor, Ontario, along the shores of the Detroit River, is a monument to the 147 Canadians who died fighting with American Armed Forces in the Vietnam War, along with 7 listed as POW/MIA.

A similar monument was erected in Melocheville, Quebec, in October 1989 by the Association Québécoise des Vétérans du Vietnam.

Known as “The North Wall” and the “Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” the 11 foot high by 14 foot wide black granite and gold bordered monument was officially dedicated on 2 July 1995 by the Michigan Association of Concerned Veterans (MACV), formerly known as the Canadian Vietnam Veterans’ Welcome Home Committee, using private funds. 

Two smaller square granite tablets sit on either side of the larger one with a map of Vietnam and crests of the five service branches that fought in the war on one and an inscription on the other that reads:

As long as we live, you shall live.
As long as we live,
You shall be remembered.
As long as we live, you shall be loved.

MACV petitioned the Canadian government to locate the monument in Ottawa, Ontario, but were unsuccessful.  In 1995, Windsor Mayor Michael Hurst contacted MACV and agreed to locate the monument on the Windsor waterfront, looking directly across from Detroit, Michigan, framed on either side by flower bed American and Canadian flags.

This long-overdue recognition, 20 years after the war ended and 22 years after the withdrawal of combat troops, was due to the fact that as Canada was not officially involved in the Vietnam War, the approximately 30,000 Canadian citizens who enlisted with the United States Armed Forces were violating Canadian law, the Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act (1937). 

In some ways it seemed almost fitting that Canadians would return the favour during wartime, as thousands of Americans crossed the border into Canada to enlist in Canada’s military forces during both World Wars prior to America’s official entry into those wars. 

The dedication in 1995 was attended by Canadian and American veterans’ groups, surviving veterans themselves and the family of the deceased listed on the monument, with an annual ceremony is held each year since.

It should be noted that one Canadian-born enlistee, U.S. Army Sergeant Pete Lemon, even won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam for actions on 1 April 1970.  Although he’d become a naturalized American citizen in 1962 when his father moved to Michigan for a job, an act that prior to 1976 cost Canadians their status, and was already living in the United States when he enlisted in the, he did remain a proud Canadian.

Sources:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_North_Wall, http://barneykin.com/northwall/index.html, https://torontosun.com/2015/04/27/the-vietnam-war-hero-canada-forgot/wcm/c898e56f-921b-4ba2-8491-fed364266fc3, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_C._Lemon, https://www.peterlemon.com.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/monument-pays-tribute-to-canadian-vietnam-veterans/

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