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Waterfront Vietnam Memorial rededicated on its 30th anniversary

Mike Desmond / WBFO

With the sound of volleys of rifle fire and a mournful rendition of Taps, local veterans on Sunday rededicated the Vietnam Memorial along the Buffalo River on the city's waterfront.

The monument in Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park was originally dedicated thirty years ago, honoring more than 500 Western New York residents killed in the war in Southeast Asia, and others whose fate is unknown. Remains of some of those have been recovered in the decades since.

Those decades of standing in the paths of the area's changing seasons had damaged the memorial. Architect David Widemer was called back to handle the repairs.

Ralph Sirianni is chairman of the committee in charge of the monument and its future restoration. He says he was there 30 years ago for the original dedication.

"I remember being out here in weather that was quite different than today," Sirianni recalled. "Those of you who were out there that day remember we weren't exactly basking in the sun. But, 30 years later, almost to the day, one day short, here we are with a monument, this portion of it restored," Sirianni said.

Steve Banko, a heavily decorated Vietnam veteran who was wounded in the war, was the main speaker. He honored Gold Star Mothers, whose sons and daughters died while in uniform.

The monument that stood alone 30 years ago is now flanked by memorials to other wars. Another monument is planned for those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.