The two monuments are virtually indistinguishable. Both instill a sense of awe and solemnity at the very human cost of armed conflict; both are made of sleek black marble sourced from the same region of India; both are oriented the same way toward the sun to share similar reflection throughout the day.
But one is in the middle of the country — in Perry County, Mo. — a more accessible place for many who want to visit and pay respects than the bustle and distance of the nation’s capital.
The Missouri National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, which opened in May, includes the nation’s most exact replica and scale of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It’s the centerpiece of a 47-acre site that will eventually include tributes to veterans from all U.S. conflicts.
The Missouri National Veterans Memorial, outside of Perryville, features the only full-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Photo courtesy of MNVM)
The Perry County Community Foundation is playing a key role in the evolution of the site by holding charitable funds for the project. It’s an example of how the CFO and its regional affiliates can support community development by managing and administering funds for capital campaigns and the resulting construction of the goal. Another important component of these successful projects is endowed funds that will help maintain and operate such projects for long-term sustainability.
The PCCF holds several funds dedicated to aspects of the Missouri National Veterans Memorial site. By using the PCCF, the leadership group was able to accept tax-deductible gifts while it sought its 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the IRS. Now, with that in place, the Missouri National Veterans Fund organization is one of the CFO’s nonprofit partners. Additional funds have been established for elements of the project that interest donors with a specific intention of supporting the Army, Navy or Marine Corps sections.
Jim Eddleman, who donated his family’s 47-acre farm for the project, speaks at the grand opening ceremony in May. The event also featured remarks from Governor Mike Parson and a flyover by the Blue Angels. (Photo courtesy of MNVM)
The immense vision for this memorial comes from Jim Eddleman, a Vietnam veteran from 1967–68. In 2016, he and his wife, Charlene, donated their family’s 47-acre Perryville farm and made the lead gift to create the Missouri National Veterans Memorial to help visitors learn, remember and heal from the 20-year conflict that claimed more than 58,000 American casualties.
“When I was in Vietnam, I saw what the reality of war was and I made a promise to myself that if I made it alive out of Vietnam and made it back to the United States, I had to do something to show my respect and honor for my comrades,” Eddleman explains on a video describing the project.