March 30, 2021
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GWOT Veteran “Walks the Walk” to Raise Awareness for Aiken Vietnam Veterans’ Monument:
Aiken County Veterans Council Chairman Lowell Koppert is walking 53 miles to our state capitol building to bring awareness to legislators on the importance of moving an Aiken Vietnam Veterans monument from its current location to the Aiken County Veterans’ Park.
Currently, the Vietnam Veterans’ monument sits in the median of the four-lane roadway of Laurens street near downtown Aiken, across from the old Aiken Public Safety Headquarters. Originally dedicated at its current location on March 29, 1974 by then Mayor H. Odell Weeks and Aiken City Council members, with the city’s continued growth and the recent move of the Aiken Public Safety Headquarters, it is becoming increasingly difficult for veterans and surviving family members of the veterans whose names are engraved on the monument, to visit and pay their respects.
Over the past four years, the Aiken County Veterans Council has worked hard with our city and county councils, and gained their approval to move the monument to a more fitting place of honor (and safety for those who come to pay their respects) to the Aiken County Veterans Park located just 1.6 miles away. Unfortunately, efforts have been stalled due to the final approval needed by the South Carolina General Assembly for the monument to be moved. House Representatives Bill Taylor, Bill Clyburn, Bart Blackwell and Melissa Oremus introduced House Bill 3679 on January 14th and garnered delegation approval by February 18th; but now the bill languishes without Senate concurrence, due to “concerns” over recent events with monuments across the country.
Mr. Koppert, a decorated former Army Special Forces veteran who served through the Global War on Terrorism with multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, has taken up the mantle to ensure that a generation of military veterans who were ill-treated when they came home from war, will find a “Welcome Home” with honor, remembrance and dignity in Aiken. There were no victory parades or welcome-home rallies for most Vietnam War veterans; instead, most returned home to a society that did not seem to care about them, or that seemed to view them with distrust and anger. Mr. Koppert and the Aiken County Veterans Council want to ensure that the 30 Aiken veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in that war and are enshrined on the monument, are remembered and recognized.
On April 7th, Mr. Koppert will start at 6am on the current site of the monument and walk 53 miles to our South Carolina Statehouse to present a signed petition to our legislators in support of moving this monument to a place of honor and safety.
You can do your part to support this event by going to https://www.change.org/p/south-carolina-state-senate-aiken-county-vietnam-memorial-relocated-to-better-location?recruiter=1188360706&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=e7fa6680-8b4a-11eb-b884-e33e920a0306 signing the petition, and sharing with others this important issue! On April 8th, veterans and concerned citizens will be meeting up with Mr. Koppert at the War Relic Room located at 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201 for the final march to the statehouse grounds to meet with our legislators.
Help us honor our Aiken Vietnam Veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice! Thank you for your consideration in these matters. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aiken County Veterans Council