(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – “The advertising agents for
Tysons Corner Center Mall in Virginia managed to devise a thoroughly
tasteless ad featuring a woman in front of a ‘wall’ that
closely resembles the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our Nation’s
Capitol. On this ‘wall’ are inscribed, in a font
highly suggestive of that used on The Wall, the names of the
center’s stores. Then this ad was posted in Metrorail
cars, inspiring indignation and outrage of Vietnam veterans
and our families,” said John Rowan, National President
of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).
“When the depth of indignation came known, Tysons Corner
Center executives and Washington D.C. Metro officials hastened
to remove the ads, which were to have had a one-month run.
We applaud them for their swift action to correct a collective
error in judgment.
“That the conceptualization, production, approvals, and
posting of this ad got as far as it did, however, is appalling,” Rowan
said. “To defend the ad, as a spokeswoman for the D.C.
Metro initially told a reporter, because ‘We honor the
First Amendment, just like most newspapers do,’ is also
troubling. This is not, as she contended, ‘a freedom
of speech issue.’
“Rather, it is – or should be – one of simple
common sense. Just as a candidate for public office should
never use The Wall, the Iwo Jima Memorial, or any other memorial
as backdrop for a campaign ad heralding his patriotism, a company
should not use an image representing the service and sacrifice
of America’s men and women in uniform, and especially
of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to sell cars
or clothing or cigarettes, or to get folks to go out and shop.”
More than six hundred delegates from VVA state councils and
local chapters across the country will join hundreds of other
Vietnam veterans and guests in Louisville for the National
Convention. Following the July 29 Opening Ceremonies, the delegates
will meet in convention to debate national resolutions and
Constitutional amendments. Later in the week, they will vote
for VVA’s national leaders—officers and board members—for
the coming two years.
The Keynote Speaker at the Opening Ceremonies will be Retired
Army Gen. Russel Honore, a Vietnam War era veteran known as
the “Category Five General” for his leadership
in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Television
personality and Vietnam veteran Pat Sajak will be among the
recipients of VVA’s Excellence in the Arts Awards, Saturday
evening, August 1, at the Convention’s culminating event,
the Awards Banquet. VVA’s supporting organization, the
Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, will hold its Leadership
Conference concurrently with the Convention.