As part of the commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial’s 35th anniversary, I was selected as a reader in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Reading of the Names. This national event takes place in honor of the sacrifice and the last full measure of devotion to our great nation demonstrated by these service members. I am scheduled to read on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 7:04 p.m. I will read one page containing 30 names from the time period of Feb. 1-3, 1966, on Wall Panel/Line 4E, 129-135, in approximately a two-minute interval.
In Washington, D.C., the reading of the names of 58,318 service members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (commonly referred to as The Wall) will take place for 65 hours over a four-day period from November 7-10. The opening ceremony is Tuesday, Nov. 7, beginning at 3 p.m. The reading of the names will begin at 4 p.m. A large number of government officials and dignitaries will attend the opening ceremonies as speakers and continue as readers.
The VVMF is hosting the Reading of the Names as part of the special activities planned this November to commemorate The Wall’s 35th anniversary. The Reading of the Names has taken place just five other times in The Wall’s history, with the last event occurring during the 30th anniversary in 2012.
Based in Washington, D.C., the VVMF is the nonprofit organization authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1980 to build a national memorial dedicated to all who served with the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Incorporated on April 27, 1979, by a group of veterans led by Jan C. Scruggs, the organization sought a tangible symbol of recognition from the American people for those who served in the war. The result was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which has become one of the most visited memorials in Washington, D.C., with an estimated 4.5 million visitors annually.
It is quite the honor to participate in the commemoration of The Wall’s 35th anniversary. The names on The Wall are more than just names. They represent a family, just like our families. One example is U.S. Army nurse 1st Lt. Sharon Lane, one of eight women to die in Vietnam, and the only one to die from hostile fire. These brave men and women left behind friends, brothers, sisters and parents. They represent courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country. They are the true heroes of the Vietnam War. By reading their names, we will never forget them and their families that were changed forever.
I cannot express in words the personal honor and respect I deeply feel to be selected as a reader of the names during The Wall’s 35th Anniversary. I entered the U.S. Army in 1976, and all my military trainers were Vietnam veterans, including the military equipment for training. These combat veterans had a direct impact on my life and helped shape me into the 26-year career retired U.S. Army soldier, college instructor and active community citizen I am today.
Please take the time and attend the Heroes Homecoming V, a nine-day (Nov. 4-12) ceremonious event to honor veterans and an annual celebration hosted by Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the communities of Cumberland County.
This year, numerous events are dedicated to honor and acknowledge the sacrifices made by area Vietnam Veterans. These include, various Vietnam War exhibits, ceremonies and The Moving Wall dedication Nov. 11 at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Parade Field. For a full list of calendar events, visit www.HeroesHomecoming.com.
It is an honor to represent our community Vietnam veterans and their families during the commemoration of The Wall’s 35th Anniversary.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice to our nation. May God bless you and continue to bless our great nation!