Ceremony to Recognize Vets Not Eligible for Vietnam Wall Inclusion
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 9, 2009 One-hundred twenty-three American heroes from the Vietnam War era will be honored posthumously this month during the annual In Memory Day ceremony, according to Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
"In Memory Day" was created to pay tribute to the men and women who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by the Vietnam War, but who are not eligible to have their names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
A list of the honorees and their hometowns is available at http://www.vvmf.org/index.cfm?SectionID=774.
The 11th annual In Memory Day ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. April 20 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here. Nearly 1,000 family members, friends and fellow veterans are expected to visit the nation’s capital to participate in this year’s event, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
“In Memory Day allows The Wall to do what it does best: provide a healing environment for family members and friends,” Scruggs said. “It also allows all of us to pay tribute to these brave Americans who served and sacrificed for their country.”
Among the speakers at this year’s ceremony will be Richard Schneider, executive director for government affairs for the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the USA, the sponsor of the event. Navy veteran Chuck Price of Austin, Colo., will perform "The Unsung Heroes," a song about honoring and remembering Vietnam veterans.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial bears the names of 58,260 men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War.
“The Department of Defense developed specific parameters that allow only the names of servicemembers who died of wounds suffered in combat zones to be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” Scruggs said. “The In Memory program recognizes those men and women who have died prematurely as a result of the Vietnam War, but who do not meet the criteria. Many of their deaths are a result of Agent Orange exposure and emotional wounds that never healed.”
During the ceremony, family members will read aloud their loved ones’ names in chronological order by date of death. Following the ceremony, participants will lay tributes at the base of The Wall corresponding to the honorees’ dates of service in Vietnam, so that these Vietnam veterans come to rest near those comrades with whom they served. With the addition of this year’s honorees, more than 1,800 people will be honored in the In Memory Honor Roll.
Established in 1979, the nonprofit Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Since then, the Memorial Fund has evolved into an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall, promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.
Its initiatives include educational programs, a traveling Wall replica that honors veterans and a humanitarian and land mine-removal program in Vietnam. The fund also is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground educational facility near the memorial.