In the late 1970s, Thomas Lyons, South Boston resident, U.S. Marine, and well-known veteran advocate, imagined that a local memorial would be an honorable way to remember his childhood friends and other South Boston residents who died in Vietnam. The idea for the memorial came from his inspiration to honor Lyon's close childhood friends who all died in Vietnam in 1968. In 1978 Lyons organized a committee to fund the memorial for the twenty-five South Boston residents who died in Vietnam. Lyons, Thomas Irwin, executive director of Civic Progress, Henry Carroll, U.S. Army Veteran, George Egan, active member of the American Legion, VFW and Semper Fidelis Society up until his death in 2013, and Jerry Turner, U.S. Army, planned and designed the memorial. The community and the City of Boston worked together to raise $38,000 to erect the monument, designed by Harry Carroll. The South Boston Vietnam Memorial was one of the first Vietnam memorials in the nation. Each September, St. Brigid's Church, a popular local parish, holds a memorial mass followed by a rededication ceremony at Medal of Honor Park. People and Veterans from around South Boston and across the U.S. come out to pay their respects to the fallen.
Many young men from South Boston joined the armed forces right out of high school, much remained the same at the start of the Vietnam War. As a community with such a large commitment to service, the memorial stands as a reminder of their sacrifice and how a community can come together. Families of the fallen soldiers, marines, and airmen continue to gather at the memorial and attend the honorary masses year-after-year, proving that it will be a lasting fixture in the memories of South Boston families. The South Boston Vietnam Memorial displays names, branch of service, and the inscription: If You Forget My Death, Then I Died in Vain, marking its significance as a physical community memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.