- Politics and Social Issues»
- United States Politics
Vietnam Veterans Memorials | Monuments and Ceremonies to Honor Our War Heroes
In Honor & In Memory of Vietnam Veterans
Vietnam veterans are the only group of combat veterans in the history of the United States who returned home only to be shunned, and dubbed "baby killers". All other veterans have been welcomed home with open arms, and seen as heroes.
According to the Department of Defense, 2,709,918 men and women served in uniform in the Vietnam War. Of these, 58,260 were killed in Vietnam, while another 304,000 were wounded. According to these statistics, 1 out of 10 Americans who served were casualties of the Vietnam War.
Generations of Americans, many of who are too young to remember, need to learn the truth about the Vietnam War, and in turn, honor this group of heroic people. One way to do this is to visit one of the Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Washington, D.C., or The Wall That Heals, when it comes to your community.
No event in American history
is more misunderstood
than the Vietnam War.
It was misreported then,
and it is misremembered now.
---Richard M. Nixon
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
"The Wall" of Honor
My husband served with the 1st Cavalry and 82nd Airborne divisions in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. He was one of the lucky ones, because he came home. More than 58,000 service men & women did not, and it is to those who the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated. Not only is it a memorial to those who died, or are listed as missing-in-action while serving in the Vietnam War, it is for us to honor and remember them.
The Wall is made up of polished black granite, with a mirror-like surface that reflects the surrounding trees, lawns & monuments. The names are inscribed in the order of their casualty date, which shows the names as a series of individual human sacrifices and gives each a special place in history of the war.
There are no words to describe the feeling when seeing all 58,260 names on The Wall. Whether or not you know someone listed, there is something that emanates from The Wall, that beckons you to touch it.
It is quite moving to see all the things that people leave at The Wall. Offerings are left daily, and include items such as flowers, flags, medals, uniforms, dog tags, stuffed animals, poems, pictures, birthday cards, and cigarettes.
The National Park Service collects all the items every night, and inventories them. These objects now number more than 150,000 pieces, and are stored at the Museum Resource Center in Maryland. I would love to see this collection of memorials and tributes, and get to know the stories behind them.
2012 was the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
The Wall That Heals
Also known as "The Traveling Wall"
The Wall that Heals, at 250 feet long, is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was created as a service to those who might never travel to Washington, D.C. to experience the Vietnam Veterans Memorial firsthand. It is the only traveling replica that is directly affiliated with Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. So far, it has traveled to 350 communities throughout America. I had the opportunity to visit it when it came to my county.
Although quite a bit smaller than the one in DC, this one still has the same profound effect on those who visit it. It is incredibly moving to see all the thousands of names inscribed on it, even if you don't know anyone on it. My husband was a Vietnam Veteran, and he tried to visit it. It was just too much for him emotionally, and he had to leave.
Along with The Wall That Heals is a traveling museum, with pictures & stories of some of the men & women who served & paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War. The museum has some of the letters, memorabilia and other items that have been left at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.. It also has photos and biographical info on some of the individuals whose names are on The Wall. There are also displays and maps chronicling the history of The Wall and Vietnam War.
An information tent is connected to the museum trailer. It is staffed by volunteers with computers who will help you search for names on The Wall That Heals. I had them look for a buddy of my husband's, and they quickly printed out the name and wall location for me. They can also provide you with information on veterans' issues or answer other questions.
Reading of the Names
Anniversary Ceremony At The Wall
The Reading of the Names ceremony is a solemn occasion that provides us a time to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who did not return from the Vietnam War. The names of these over 58,000 service members is read out loud by volunteers from all over the country. Hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Reading of the Names takes 65 hours over four days. The names are read chronologically by casualty date.
The most recent Reading of the Names took place November 7-11, 2012. There have been only 4 other times in The Wall's history that the Reading of the Names has taken place. The first was in November 1982, at Washington National Cathedral as part of a week-long National Salute to Vietnam Veterans. The three other times were for the 10th Anniversary celebration in November 1992, the 20th Anniversary celebration in 2002 and the 25th Anniversary celebration in 2007.
Reading of the Names Video - 25th & 30th Anniversaries of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
''I think the names that are being read are of men who died for freedom just as surely as any man who ever fought for this country.'' -- Ronald Reagan
In Memory Day & Plaque
The Wall only honors those veterans who died during their service. But many Vietnam veterans die prematurely as a result of the war, and cannot be included on The Wall. Post-traumatic stress disorder, Agent Orange exposure, and other injuries and diseases, attributed to their service, must be acknowledged as well.
Vietnam Veterans who died after their service in Vietnam are honored on Flag Day in June at the "In Memory" event. This event is to pay tribute to the sacrifices both veterans and their families have endured both during and after the war.
During this event, the names of those who died are read aloud. At the conclusion of the event, certificates and other tributes of these honorees are placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Later, the National Park Service collects these items, and stores them in a permanent archive.
My husband was honored on June 14, 2012, and June 20, 2015 on "In Memory" day. His death was a result of his Agent Orange exposure, which along with PTSD, caused him great suffering for 38 years. It is only fitting - and just - that he is remembered along with his fellow soldiers.
To learn more about the In Memory Day event, visit this site.
In Memory Day Event
Thank A Veteran
I urge you, whether or not you agree with war, to thank a veteran every time you see one. It only takes you a minute of your time to acknowledge a veteran, while the appreciation of the gesture will last a great deal longer.