BREAKING
County approves settlement with Boxberger, Lehmkuhl
Full Story
By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Barton County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project
Donors sought for project
Veterans Memorial Park Project
his illustration shows the concept for a Barton County Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park in Great Bend.

Funds are being sought to make a Barton County Vietnam Veterans Memorial a realty this year, said Larry Parsons, who is part of the team spearheading the project.

Barton County’s Vietnam War veterans brought The Wall That Heals Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center to Great Bend in 2023.

Goal to have project done by Nov. 11

The replica contains the 58,281 names of those who died in the war. After that successful event, Parsons said he asked himself, “Is that enough?”

No, it wasn’t. Next, area Vietnam veterans urged the Barton County Historical Society to add an exhibit from that era to the other military exhibits at the museum. There are more than 100 items on display now, Parsons said. But even as that exhibit was coming together, he said, “We can do more.”

They decided Veterans Memorial Park needed an exhibit dedicated to Barton County’s Vietnam War veterans.

Parsons and fellow Vietnam vets Gary Burke, Ghazi Jahay, Ken Lebbin and Mike Harbaugh Sr. came up with a theme and took their ideas to Bruce Bitter at B& B Metal Arts in Hoisington. The 50-foot long memorial to be installed at Veterans Memorial Park represents the Wall with a helicopter hovering over its apex, the logos for the branches of service, the Vietnam Service Medal and three soldiers crouching in tall elephant grass.

An important piece of the memorial will be a bench where veterans can sit and reflect – and perhaps find a fellow veteran to open up to, Parsons said. When The Wall that Heals came to Great Bend, he remembers being approached by several Vietnam veterans who were reluctant to open up at first, but with the right place and someone who understands what they went through, something changed. “They couldn’t stop talking,” he said.


We are very grateful to the city
Larry Parsons

“We need something permanent for Vietnam veterans, their families and the wounded,” he said. “Something of their own.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Dorothy Morrison Foundation and other donors, the committee raised most of the funding for this $120,000 project. They also received the blessing of the Great Bend City Council, which agreed to be responsible for powering the lights to the memorial and taking care of the irrigation system.

“We’re very grateful to the city,” Parsons said.

In the next week or so, the organizers will order the materials for the memorial. Meanwhile, they must finish raising the funds.

“We need about $50,000,” he said.

Donations can be mailed to Great Bend Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 533, Great Bend, KS 67530. Checks should be made to the Great Bend Foundation with “Barton County Vietnam Veterans Memorial” in the memo. The Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 organization, which means donations are tax-deductible, Parsons noted.

The group hopes the memorial will be installed by October, just ahead of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.