KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A place of honor was a place being shamed according to an assessment of Vietnam veterans about Kansas City's Vietnam Memorial Park.
They say they're tired of the poor shape it's constantly in, and they want it restored to a true place of honor.
Vietnam War veterans from all over are in Kansas City honoring one of their fallen soldiers tomorrow. They came to Vietnam Memorial Park yesterday to inspect it for the event...only to find it completely trashed.
"The history of Kansas City and this memorial, has always been not in the best interest of the Vietnam veterans, or any veterans," said Randy Hall, a Vietnam War veteran, who is hosting the reunion for the 25th Infantry Division known as the "Wolfhounds", which will be attended by about 250 people.
"They've shopped, they've dined, they've spent their money, thousands of dollars in our city, and the last thing I wanted was for this to leave a bitter taste in their mouth when they went home," added Hall.
The veterans have been in the metro all week, and are holding a memorial service at the park Saturday for a fallen comrade. When Hall and another veteran came to check it out, they were horrified by what they found.
"It was deplorable! There was glass, there was trash, when we walked over here there was a homeless guy washing his clothes in the reflective pool over here!" said Roger Cates, also a Vietnam veteran.
Hall said he planned this event for two years, and said it took him six months to get a permit from the city to use the park.
"It's very disrespectful," Hall said. "Especially when you have a mayor who was a Marine! He should understand it more than anyone."
Hall said he called Mayor Sly James' office multiple times, and was told they planned to clean it up Friday all along. Hall says he's thrilled the city spent the day cleaning the mess up, but doesn't understand why it wasn't clean to begin with.
"When you go to other city parks, the World War I Museum, it's clean, it's mowed, there isn't any trash," said Hall. "This is a memorial, just like that is."
"We came out here and found this city to be warming, welcoming, and when I saw this, it was a tarnished feeling that I was feeling," Cates said.
The city says the park is cleaned three times a week and was before any permitted event. The city also says this has become a place for the homeless to live, and that it actually pays more attention to this park than others for that reason.
The memorial for the fallen soldier is Saturday at noon at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is open to the public.