Here’s a Memorial Day story that time has long forgotten.
Over 36 years ago, on a clear but cold Wednesday in March of 1984, New York City Democrat Mayor Ed Koch headlined a special luncheon inside New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The organizers of the gathering had hoped for a big turnout, but only 25 people showed up. The goal of the event was to raise awareness and support of a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in lower Manhattan.
The mayor spoke first.
“Never have we had a war where we have treated our veterans so shabbily,” Mr. Koch stated. “We have not done what we should.”
Standing beside Mayor Koch were 2 real estate developers, both of whom had opposed the war.
Maurice, who had built low-income housing in Queens and in lower Manhattan, had been a vocal anti-war activist in the 1960s.
The other developer, John, spoke next.
”I was a very strong opponent of the Vietnam War,” he said, ”but I also recognized that the people who went to fight were great Americans. I always thought they got a bad shake in life and never got their just recognition.”
Together, John and Maurice pledged to use every connection and relationship they had to get the project completed in time for Memorial Day in 1985.
In fact, John was so enthusiastic about the project that he donated $1 million of his own money to get the job started.
The commission wound up raising $3 million, with the mayor calling John’s donation “instrumental in the completion of this project.”
That glass-block wall, 70 feet long by 16 feet high still stands on this Memorial Day, honoring the nearly 1800 citizens of New York City who died in Vietnam – along with the 250,000 men and women who served there during the war.
The real estate mogul Maurice Paprin died in 2005, but his partner on the commission, John, is still serving on the world’s stage.
That would be President Donald John Trump – the real estate developer whose $1 million gift made New York City’s Vietnam Memorial a reality.
From Lexington and Concord to the jungles of Vietnam to the decades long war in the Middle East, let’s never forget that it’s the sacrifice of our nation’s military men and women who make today’s freedom on Memorial Day even possible.
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