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Texas Vietnam Memorial Plans Move Forward

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(KXAN) - Plans for the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the State Capitol are moving forward. On Friday, the State Preservation Board heard final testimony and approved the design before its unveiling next spring.

Among the memorials on the Texas State Capitol lawn, visitors won't find something dedicated to the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. 41 years after the last U.S. combat troops left.

But that will change.

But the hearing met with fierce criticism from a crowd of South Vietnamese military veterans and their supporters like Christine Helm.

"We were so happy that all of our community and all Vietnamese soldiers, including my husband," said Helm.

Helm's husband was an Air Force pilot when he went missing in action. The memorial's original design gave her a reminder -- a statue of a South Vietnamese ranger.

Organizers later changed their minds.

"We made the change from Vietnamese ranger to an Asian-American," said Robert Floyd, chairman of the memorial committee.

Floyd said it was to include a wider, more diverse representation of Texans in the war.

"If they were going to change the statue in the first place, they should have done it before they opened their mouth and said anything to anybody," one man said outside the hearing.

The new version will depict five U.S. service members - all branches of the military. And there will be another change."One 2x4 foot panel that will show four Army rangers - Vietnamese Army rangers – and a scene from Vietnam," Floyd said.

It is a small consolation for Helm, who says there is still time to make a better decision.

"We hope they can change their minds and put back the original plan with the South Vietnamese soldier on that monument."

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