Former Republican U.S. Senator Charles Mathias, Jr. of Maryland, a World War II veteran who opposed the Vietnam War but was one of the moving forces in creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, died January 25. He was 87 and had Parkinson’s disease.
Sen. Mathias (above) sponsored the original legislation in 1979 that authorized building a memorial in Washington to honor the service of the nation’s Vietnam War veterans. The legislation passed unanimously. He also suggested the site of The Wall, in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall.
Even more importantly, Sen. Mathias, along with then Virginia Sen. John Warner, were the main players in hammering out the final agreement that saved the Memorial when it appeared that the Reagan Administration and others unhappy with the design wanted to kill it.
“This week, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund lost a good friend and our nation lost a true statesman,” VVMF President Jan Scruggs said.