Washington, D.C.-- Vietnam Veterans of America welcomed the announcement by the Department of Defense to move forward with plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Said VVA National President John Rowan, "Whatever one feels about our nation's venture in Southeast Asia, commemorating the 50th anniversary of our efforts there honors the selflessness and sacrifice of all who served, both in Southeast Asia and in locations all over the globe, including those in the continental United States."
This long-awaited news signifies that, at last, the Defense Department will move forward with plans to fulfill the intent of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act and support a full range of events to achieve the objectives outlined in the legislation. These include:
"Thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans;
"Highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the armed forces; "Pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War; and "Highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to the military research conducted during the Vietnam War."
"There are more than 58,000 names engraved on The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in our Nation's capital. They are the fathers and brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons who made the ultimate sacrifice. The commemoration will acknowledge and honor their contributions and their memory," Rowan said. "But those veterans who have passed away for causes attributed to their service in Southeast Asia, and those who are with us still and whose lives were forever changed by their experiences during their service to our nation must also be acknowledged.
"It would be fitting," Rowan added, "for the In Memory Plaque, which memorializes the veterans whose post-war deaths are attributed to their service in the Vietnam War, to be given the prominence it warrants as part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial."