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Bethlehem to dedicate memorial to its 35 sons who died in Vietnam

Beth Masaido had a vision. And after seeing a memorial produced by Monumental Crafts of Hellertown, she knew who could execute it. Over the course of five months Bob Moll planned, designed, and built the memorial Masaido envisioned, honoring 35 men from Bethlehem who died in the Vietnam War. The name of each man was carved into a rubber stencil to be engraved into the granite memorial. Moll delivered the finished product to Bethlehem City Hall on Tuesday.The black granite, free-standing memorial will be unveiled at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in a public ceremony outside Bethlehem City Hall. Most of the men being honored were drafted shortly after graduating from Liberty High School. One was declared missing in action, while 34 were killed in action. “I just felt obligated that they are remembered,” Masaido said. “I just hope people go past it every day and read their names and don’t forget them.” Masaido is known for her service to the veteran community. She spends much of her time cutting out the stars on retired flags and encasing them in plastic for veterans and first responders in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. She often physically delivers the stars herself, said Gary Powers, former president of the Lehigh Valley chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America in Northampton County. That’s quite a commitment, considering that Powers said Masaido has sent or delivered about 90,000 stars. She also serves as a patriot guard, standing in a flag line at funerals, and has presented colors when no one else was there for the deceased. “It’s just remarkable,” Powers said of the memorial. “It’s a feather in her cap and a feather in Bethlehem’s cap.”Masaido grew up in a military family. Her older brother, who graduated from Liberty High School in 1964, enlisted and served with some of the men being honored. For a few, he escorted their bodies home from Vietnam, she said. “Having three marines in my family, I understand sacrifice and patriotism,” Masaido said. “I didn’t serve in the war, so I have to serve my country somehow.”Lehigh Valley is home to about 40,000 veterans and their families according to the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council.The area’s strong military ties helped Masaido raise money for the project. To build the memorial, she needed $10,000 in donations, which she reached. If more money comes in by the end of June, she says she will have a plaque made for Liberty High School with all of the men’s names on it, or donate the money to a veteran’s group in their honor. Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez will say a few words at Saturday’s ceremony. As a 1968 Liberty graduate, Donchez knew many of the men being recognized and Masaido said he was on board with the project from the moment she mentioned it to him in September.Joining Donchez at the ceremony will be guest speakers Carol Resh and Vi Luu. Resh is a member of Lehigh Valley Gold Star Mothers. Her son Mark an Army captain from Lowhill Township, died while serving in Iraq. Luu, of Lancaster, was born in Vietnam and served as a United States Marine.
Source: Morningcall

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