A while back, we enjoyed a brief visit in Savannah – an opportunity to do a bit of research and visit the cemetery where most of my Savannah Barrett ancestors are buried. I also wanted to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Emmet Park – not only because it’s a beautiful memorial but also because it was created by Oglethorpe Marble and Granite. It just so happens that they are part of my Savannah family.
A huge piece of Georgia marble sits in the middle of a reflecting pool. It has a map of Vietnam carved on its face and a pedestal at the top with an upturned rifle, empty boots, helmet and dog tags. A five-pointed star of marble embedded in the cement fans out from the pool with the insignia of each of the branches of service carved at the points. A large block of marble (shown here on the right) lists the names of the 105 area residents who were killed or declared missing in the war. To the east, American and POW/MIA flags fly perpetually at half-mast.
Like many military memorials, the funds to create it are donated by citizens, civic and fraternal groups and businesses. Rings of engraved bricks were sold to raise funds and they are also embedded in the cement to show who helped make this memorial possible. A spirit must have been guiding my feet as I walked over to get a closer look at the bricks, for when I stopped and looked down, I was surprised to find myself standing directly over a brick with my father’s name, W H Barrett, engraved on it. Actually, it should not have been so surprising. My father was born in Savannah, served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and during the Vietnam War he shuttled fuel from the Persian Gulf to Cam Rahn Bay. So, now I have an even closer attachment to this beautiful memorial.
Details: The map was carved in place from three pieces of Georgia marble with a total weight of 91 tons. An overhead photo at the Oglethorpe Marble and Granite site shows a better perspective of the carved map.