New Wall South Book Published
- January 23, 2016
- / Chris Kazakos
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"The Veterans Memorial Park Foundation is so fortunate to have Art Giberson and his new book,” said Veterans Memorial Park Foundation President Butch Hansen. "His contributions are second to none. Consistent with Art’s selfless participation in developing the Park and documenting its history, he continues to donate to ensure its continued success. Our organization and the community will greatly benefit by the documentation of this history that defines the cultures of the eras of not only the Park’s history, but the armed conflicts that its monuments memorialize. It accounts for the endurance of our traditions and the sacrifices made for them such that they are understood and deemed worthy of emulation by future generations. I hope this publication becomes a valued possession of community members, leaders, military members and visitors as testament to how this wonderful community values the sacrifices of those that gave all for our way of life.”
Veterans Memorial Park is the home to Vietnam Veterans of Northwest Florida's "Wall South", a one half scale model of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Wall South is 256 feet long and consists of 32 panels per wing. It lists the names of all 58,219 men and women listed as killed in action or missing in action from the war in Vietnam. The names are inscribed in the black granite face of the two walls.
"As (the Wall) was being built, I would go down at least once a day, sometimes there two or three times a day and I would shoot photographs of it,” said Giberson. "Once I had the pictures, what do I do with them? I went to the Wall South foundation at the time and suggested that we make it into a book, which I did: The Wall South book.”
While Giberson is modest about his many contributions to the park as its unofficial documentarian, he takes great personal pride in this book.
"I thought it was a wonderful opportunity,” he said. "Documenting (the Wall) and turning it into a book was a wonderful feeling and I honestly felt, and still feel that I was continuing to do something for those guys who never came back from Vietnam. It just made me feel closer to them.”
20 percent of the proceeds from each book purchased will be directly donated to the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.
Why reissue the book a decade after its publishing? This Wall South book will include some new photos of the Park, which has grown to 11 monuments since the Wall was first built. But, the most important thing to Giberson is to make sure that we remember the two people he says were most instrumental to the Wall South’s inception:Lenny Collins and Nelson Wellborn.
"I wanted to redo it to include the rest of the memorials,” he said. "But primarily it was to set the record straight, and this book will do that. I’m not taking anything away from anyone, but when it comes to building the park, if there’s anyone who should get credit its Lenny Collins and Nelson Wellborn. They wanted people to know that those 58,000+ people didn’t die in vain.”
"That was my primary goal. To make sure that no one ever forgets how that park came about. It didn’t just happen.”
The new Wall South is also available and by e-mailing Giberson directly at [email protected]