In Memory Event for Vietnam Veterans
Over 58,000 men and women who served in the Vietnam War, died there. Their names are inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.
However, more of our military died after they returned home from the war. With both physical and psychological wounds, they suffered for some time before eventually passing on.
The names of this latter group of service men & women are not eligible for placement on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, although their death resulted from their service. Yet they are still honored at the National Mall in Washington, DC with the "In Memory Plaque", and an event known as "In Memory Day".
All photos copyright Country Sunshine
In Memory Day is held each June on Flag Day, in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, who are the founders of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
Aptly held in view of the "Wall", the ceremony is attended by the family and friends of those service people who died as a result of their service. In 2012, over 600 people attended the In Memory Day event!
At the beginning of the ceremony, the Honor Guard brings in the colors. There are flags for every branch of the service, plus the United States flags. The Star-Spangled Banner is sung, and the Pledge of Allegiance recited.
While you have heard both of these many times, it is quite moving to experience them in this setting. Many war veterans are in the audience, and it brings tears to your eyes to see how patriotic they really are.
After the Retiring of the Colors by the Armed Forces Color Guard, several speaker provide remarks about the honorees. While they may be political figures, they leave their politics behind while they speak.
In 2012, the speakers were:
- Senator Joe Lieberman
- Delegate Timothy Hugo
- Joyce Wessel Raezer
Each year since 1998, names of the veterans who have lost their lives as a result of their service in Vietnam are added to the In Memory Honor Roll. Yet, this is not the only time their names are mentioned.
After the speakers have given their remarks, family members and friends of the veterans who were added in previous years are invited to the podium once again. Spouses, family members and friends of the fallen state the name and service of their loved ones.
You can hear in the shakiness of their voices that they still grieve for their loved ones. Yet, you feel in your heart the love and the pride they have for those heroes who are gone.
After the Benediction, the song Unsung Heroes by Chuck Price is played. In past years, Price played the song live. However, in 2012 he was unable to attend, so the song was pre-recorded.
As the song continues, family & friends of the present year are invited to stand behind the tributes of their loved ones. It is a solemn moment; both tragic and wonderful at the same time. I have never felt so proud and so sad at the same time.
As the music stops, the names begin to be read. Starting with the veteran who lost his life the longest time ago, family members state their loved one's name, relationship and military branch. By the time everyone's voice is heard, you will find tears are streaming down your cheeks. There is no way that you cannot be moved by this ceremony.
After the final name is read, Taps is performed by the United States Marine Band. Such a mournful sound!
The participants retrieve their loved one's tributes, and head to The Wall - the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Leaving their memories along with their mementos, saying one more good-bye.
It is difficult to describe the emotions you will experience at the In Memory Day event. Watch this short video and see if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye.