Honoring and publicly acknowledging veterans who served decades ago also lets those individuals know they and their contributions to the country are not forgotten. This process may prove especially important for veterans who served in the Vietnam War, due to that conflict's controversial reception at the time and mixed legacy since. Now that decades have passed since the war, those who served are growing older – but it's not too late to ensure they are celebrated and remembered by the government and public.
"The process is meant to ensure the public has access to photos of every American veteran of the Vietnam War."
Online project gets 50,000th photo
One of the most memorable and dynamic veterans memorials, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The memorial fund that maintains the installation recently announced that its online companion program, the Wall of Faces, has collected its 50,000th image. The process is meant to ensure the public has access to photos of every American veteran of the Vietnam War, as another way to ensure their service and sacrifices are not forgotten. The Wall of Faces has been collecting pictures since 2009.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who is heading up the 35th-anniversary commemoration for the memorial, urged members of the public to come forward with pictures of Vietnam veterans who are not yet represented in the Wall of Faces. He expressed hope that the collection could be completed by the end of 2017, and explained that it's especially important to collect the images of those who died during the war, to make sure their memory lives on.
Veterans groups around the country have been active in finding pictures for the Wall of Faces. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund announced that the 50,000th picture for the virtual wall came from VVA Chapter 1036, based in Florida. That chapter has been actively seeking out photos over the past year. The milestone photo is of local Bobby Joe Quinn of Morristown, Tennessee.
Pinning ceremony honors vets
While lasting archives such as the Wall of Faces and the physical memorial in Washington, D.C., help the world remember the Vietnam War, there is also value in events that directly reach out to the veterans themselves. This is where pinning ceremonies come in, with individuals across the country thanked for their service in person and receiving a commemorative pin. The Daily Commercial in Lake County, Wisconsin, reported on one such gathering. At AMVETS Post 2006 in Leesburg, Wisconsin, approximately 180 vets received the pins, which are being given as a 50-year remembrance of the war.
The news provider noted that the pinning campaign is being carried out following President Barack Obama's 2012 presidential proclamation authorizing honors for every living veteran who served from Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975. At the Leesburg ceremony, speakers included Mayor Bob Bone, who thanked veterans for their efforts, and retired Army Command Sgt. Major Jimmie W. Spencer, who stated that the troubles that characterized the Vietnam War era must never be allowed to return.
Although many of them were ignored or vilified in their own time, Vietnam veterans have recently been able to find public support from various local and national programs. The aforementioned are just two examples of this phenomenon.