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President Launches Vietnam War's 50th Anniversary Observance

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 – In a proclamation issued today, President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember the courage and sacrifice of U.S. military members who served during the Vietnam War, and he declared May 28, 2012, through Nov. 11, 2025, as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

In his proclamation, Obama called upon federal, state, and local officials “to honor our Vietnam veterans, our fallen, our wounded, those unaccounted for, our former prisoners of war, their families, and all who served with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities” during the 13-year commemoration.

“As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor,” Obama said in his proclamation. “We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved.

“From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans,” the president continued. “Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our armed forces.”

Today, grateful Americans “honor more than 58,000 patriots -- their names etched in black granite -- who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know,” Obama said. “We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen. With more than 1,600 of our service members still among the missing, we pledge as a nation to do everything in our power to bring these patriots home.

“In the reflection of The Wall,” he continued, “we see the military family members and veterans who carry a pain that may never fade. May they find peace in knowing their loved ones endure, not only in medals and memories, but in the hearts of all Americans, who are forever grateful for their service, valor, and sacrifice.”

Obama urged citizens to “renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return.”

Beginning on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, he said, the federal government will partner with local governments, private organizations, and communities across America to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The 13-year commemoration, he added, will “honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

No amount of words will ever be enough or fully worthy in praising military members for their service in the Vietnam War, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, Obama said.

However, “it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor,” he said, adding it’s also important to “renew our commitment to the fullest possible accounting for those who have not returned.”

Obama urged all Americans to provide “our Vietnam veterans, their families, and all who have served the fullest respect and support of a grateful nation.”

 

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