Wallkill dedicates Vietnam Veterans Memorial Mall

Originally published in Mid Hudson News on .
Mike Cody, middle, and others at dedication of Wallkill Vietnam Wall.

“Welcome home.”

Vietnam veterans repeated this greeting throughout the 90-minute ceremony dedicating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in the Town of Wallkill Tuesday evening. The greeting was a response to the disrespectful way people treated soldiers returning from Vietnam.

Some 150 people were on hand to honor and celebrate Vietnam veterans 49 years to the day the war ended on April 30, 1975. They stood and applauded the man behind the creation of the wall, Mike Cody – a Purple Heart recipient, Vietnam veteran, and Wallkill resident.

“It’s not my wall, it’s your wall, it’s his wall, it’s the people. The park is made for the people,” he said.

Wallkill Town Councilman Mark Coyne emceed the ceremony. He said that Cody came up with the idea for a Memorial Park in 1995 and the first piece of the wall was installed three years later.

Wallkill Town Supervisor George Serrano thanked Cody for “not giving up” on the project that was 30 years in the making.

“We stand here today thanks to you,” Serrano said.

Louis Ingrassia Jr., Wallkill commissioner of Public Works, thanked his people for the work they’ve done over the years in creating the park. He said the wall cost $350,000. The wall committee raised $200,000 by selling T-shirts, hats and other items, and conducting coin drops. The rest of the funds came from grants through Senator James Skoufis and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

Gunther said the community was showing its gratitude to the Vietnam veterans through the wall. Skoufis said the wall was a way of finally recognizing Vietnam veterans for their sacrifices.

Vietnam veteran Harry Nulty delivered some sad facts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He noted the overwhelming youth of the more than 58,000 persons whose names appeared on the wall; one was only 15.

Coyne was pleased at how the ceremony played out. He said he set out to honor Vietnam War veterans and offer the rationale for the need for such a memorial.