Featured in The Patriot Reader

by: Michael Rothfeld
May, 2015

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedication

Jerry Domask, Vietnam Veteran, Artist, Friend
To say that Jerry Domask is a unique individual would be an understatement. He is so much more. When you see his Vietnam related paintings you can readily see how he was influenced by his war experience.

I first met Jerry through a UNF event where he was exhibiting his Vietnam collection of paintings. We have since developed a friendship because of our common interest in recording Vietnam war experiences, we just do it in different ways.

Jerry is working with UNF, a very military friendly campus with over 1200 veterans in “developing an opportunity for the veteran community (on & off campus) and other UNF students creating veteran art projects (film, video, visual and performing arts) to display their work in one of UNF’s art galleries” What an idea! If anyone can see this project through to fruition it will be Jerry.

Jerry’s artistic creations are recognized nationally as well as locally; including several multi-media works at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago and the University of North Florida’s permanent art collection, plus numerous local art exhibits and shows.

The following thoughts and ideas were used by Jerry for the inspiration behind the Vietnam memorials design. The Vietnam Monument has to be different from other memorials. The Vietnam War was different. It was different in the fact that there was no American war prior to, or after Vietnam, where the returning warrior was scorned and shunned by their homeland. The Vietnam veterans received no “Welcome Home”.

The memorial is an effort to right that wrong, to deliver the message to our veterans who proudly served, that their sacrifices were deeply and forever appreciated. The monument welcomes home all veterans who served during the War between 1961 and 1975, regard-less of where stationed worldwide.
The womb shaped front of the memorial symbolizes a final resting place of respect, honor, and gratitude for our veterans. The remaining surfaces reflect abrupt changes, truncated edges and unpredictable planes.

They echo the mood and environment of the nation at the time—one of political and social unrest. Clashing cultures and core values collided, sometimes overwhelming the returning veterans with a relent-less bombardment of rejection and feeling of worthlessness. Finally the memorial was designed to be viewed 360 degrees.

**Reprinted with permission Michael Rothfeld and The Patriot Reader, a publication of the Veterans Council of St Johns County.
Click HERE to read more from the Veterans Council of St Johns County.