The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Grove Committee announced that Dr. Paul Fazekas, author of “Enduring Images, From The Trauma of War to Lifelong Healing” will speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Sprague Brook Park at the Memorial Day ceremony on May 26.
Fazekas, PhD, NP, is licensed both as a clinical psychologist and psychiatric nurse practitioner. Fazekas is in private practice and is a medication consultant at several psychiatric clinics. He is a member of The American Psychological Association, the American College of Nurse Practitioners and the Combat Infantry’s Association. He lives in the Western New York area with his wife Donna and Funny Face, their miniature dachshund.
Drafted into the United States Army in 1969 at the age of 19, he served with the First Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile and the 11th Light Infantry Brigade) for a one year tour in Vietnam.
Despite his best effort to forget combat trauma, he was forced to confront the ghosts of Vietnam in 2002, when he met the family of his squad leader who was in an ambush and died in his arms. This providential meeting opened the way to more meaningful healing from post-traumatic stress, a disorder that many combat veterans and their families can identify with along their own journeys.
The Memorial Day ceremony is attended by hundreds of people. Two motorcycle contingents, escorted by Erie County Sheriff’s deputies, ride to the ceremony, one starting from the American Legion in West Seneca and the other from The American Legion in Gowanda, the southwest corner of Erie County.
Some people call this “Rolling Thunder,” which was the name given to the B 52 bombings in Vietnam.
Originally the four-acre memorial site at Sprague Brook Park was planted with one tree for each of the Erie County citizens who “gave the last full measure” while serving their country in Vietnam. There was also a concrete pad installed next to the large pond where people could have a memorial engraving etched for anyone they wished to memorialize. In the center of the pad stands a hand carved statue of a trooper dipping his canteen, symbolic of the importance of and the need for water in combat.
In subsequent years there was another pad and a granite memorial at the site next to the road. A few years ago a concrete walk was constructed from the road down to the pond to enable people to easily walk down the hill. At intervals next to the walk are concrete benches sitting behind insignias, one for each branch of the military and one POW symbol.
Original seed money for the memorial was given by the AMVETS Post 219, Boston. Additional funds have been contributed by area citizens and local businesses. The work has been accomplished by a small group of Vietnam and other veterans and local volunteers. Sons of AMVETS, Post 219, Boston made a very generous donation toward the granite wall that was recently installed.
At last year’s ceremony, the committee dedicated a granite wall with the names of those Erie County residents who gave their lives in Vietnam while serving their country.
While the ceremony is held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Grove, it is important to note that the ceremony honors all of the United States citizens who gave their lives in service to their country.
The 2014 Memorial Day ceremony will commence precisely at 11 a.m. when The AMVETS Post 219 Honor Guard will march down the hill from the road. The ceremony ends with a bugler playing taps, following the honor guard’s rifle salute.
It is suggested that anyone who plans to attend arrive at the park prior to 10:30 a.m. to view the arrival of the many hundreds of motorcycles.