Veterans

May 29, 2012

Obama praises Vietnam vets at war’s anniversary

Tags:
by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are escorted by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, commander of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, to a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., May 28, 2012.

President Barack Obama May 28 called the treatment Vietnam War veterans received after they returned home “a national shame” and asked that Americans use the 50th anniversary of the war to set the record straight.

Obama spoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall on the National Mall. The black granite is incised with the names of 58,282 service members killed in the conflict.

“It’s here we feel the depth of your sacrifice,” the president said. “And here we see a piece of our larger American story.”

That American story is the generational pursuit of “a more perfect union,” Obama said. Each generation has a role to play in that effort – to overcome a painful past, to right a historic wrong, he said.

“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam – most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there,” Obama said. “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated.”

The president called the treatment a national shame and a disgrace that should never have happened. “That’s why, here today, we resolve that it will not happen again,” he said.

A central part of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War will be “to tell your story as it should have been told all along,” Obama said. “It’s another chance to set the record straight. That’s one more way we keep perfecting our union – setting the record straight. And it starts today.”

History will honor the service of the Vietnam generation. Their stories will join those of veterans going back to the founding of the republic, the president said.

“Let us tell the story of a generation of service members – every color, every creed, rich, poor, officer and enlisted – who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you,” he said.

Combat in Vietnam was brutal: Battles in Hue and on Hamburger Hill and the A Shau Valley sparked heroism that often went unremarked in a nation bitterly divided by the war. And American POWs “wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history,” Obama said.

“As a nation, we’ve long celebrated the courage of our forces at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the Pusan Perimeter and Heartbreak Ridge,” the president said. “So let us also speak of your courage — at Hue and Khe Sanh, at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to Rolling Thunder. All too often it’s forgotten that you, our troops in Vietnam, won every major battle you fought in.”

And with the war over, the Vietnam vets continued to serve. “So let us also tell a story of a generation that came home, and how – even though some Americans turned their back on you – you never turned your back on America,” he said. “You became leaders and public servants, from town halls to Capitol Hill – lifting up our communities, our states, our nation.”

And they learned from the mistakes of the past. Those who stayed in uniform used their experience to rebuild the U.S. military “into the finest force that the world has ever known,” Obama said.

The Vietnam generation looked after each other, Obama said, by pushing the bureaucracy to provide the benefits they earned and speaking up for more research money.

“Just as important, you didn’t just take care of your own, you cared for those that followed,” he continued. “You’ve made it your mission to make sure today’s troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive.”

Vietnam vets were the moving force behind the Post-9/11 GI Bill that is helping hundreds of thousands of today’s veterans go to college and pursue their dreams, Obama said.

“Because you didn’t let us forget, at our airports, our returning troops get off the airplane and you are there to shake their hands,” he said. “Because of you, across America, communities have welcomed home our forces from Iraq. And when our troops return from Afghanistan, America will give this entire 9/11 generation the welcome home they deserve.”

This is the legacy of Vietnam, Obama said — the story of a generation that did its job.

“You served with honor,” the president said. “You made us proud. You came home and you helped build the America that we love and that we cherish. So here today, it must be said: You have earned your place among the greatest generations.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by SSgt. Luisito Brooks

Medal of Honor recipient from Korean War laid to rest in Arlington

Army photograph by SSgt. Luisito Brooks Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), provide ceremonial support during a full military honors burial for Pvt. Miguel A. Vera, Nov. 20, 2014, in Arlington National ...
 
 

VA to accept proposals for new scheduling system

As part of The Department of Veterans Affairs ongoing effort to improve veterans access to healthcare, the VA announced it has issued a Request for Proposal for a new Medical Appointment Scheduling System. The new MASS technology will help improve access to care for veterans by providing schedulers with state-of-the-art, management-based scheduling software. When it...
 
 

VA implements second phase of Choice Card program

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Nov. 18 that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards on November 17 to Veterans currently waiting more than 30-days from their preferred date or the date that is medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility. VA continues to focus on implementation of this new...
 

 

VA to hold small business engagement in Atlanta next month

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in collaboration with other federal agencies and partners, will sponsor the 4th annual National Veterans Small Business Engagement, Dec. 9-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. The premier event for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, the NVSBE is expected to attract as many as 3,000 attendees offering the chance...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO3 Jon Erickson

World War II cruiser USS Houston final report completed

Navy photograph by PO3 Jon Erickson Naval officers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in honor of the crews of the U.S. Na...
 
 
DOD photograph by PO2 Sean Hurt

Hagel says Vietnam Wall teaches sacrifice, need for questioning policies

DOD photograph by PO2 Sean Hurt Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shakes hands with a Vietnam War veteran after a Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 2014. The Vietnam War Memorial t...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>