Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and National Mall & Memorial Parks Superintendent Peggy OâDell joined retired General Colin L. Powell and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Jan C. Scruggs in welcoming thousands of Vietnam veterans and their families to the memorial on Veterans Day to commemorate its 25th anniversary and remember those whose names are inscribed on the memorialâs walls.
A larger than typical crowd for a Veterans Day event at this memorial heard the veterans cheer loudly when Powell, along with other notable speakers â including Senator Chuck Hagel, Diane Carlson Evans, the founder and President of the Vietnam Womenâs Memorial Foundation, and Mary âEdieâ Meeks of the same organization â all say that they find the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a place where they can reconnect with one another, share their common experiences, and feel as though they are âhealing the woundsâ that still haunt some Vietnam veterans.
âWe recognize what this memorial represents to you, the Vietnam veteran,â said Kempthorne. âWe have the responsibility of continuing to make sure everyone is as proud of this memorial as we are.â
âMany have suggested the World War II generation is Americaâs greatest generation,â added Powell. âWhile I would never diminish what the World War II veteran did for this country, you helped achieve greatness for what you did and the difference you made on your tours of duty. Please remember that.â
The dayâs ceremony concluded five days of events and activities for thousands of Vietnam veterans who swarmed into Washington this past week. Volunteers read the names of each of the 58,256 names on âThe Wallâ over the course of 65 hours beginning on Wednesday, only the third time the reading of all names has occurred since the memorialâs dedication in November 1982.