tv Veterans Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial CSPAN November 12, 2017 9:31am-10:31am EST
[background chatter] >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. i am jim knotts, the president and ceo of the veterans vietnam fund, and i will be the master of ceremonies today. it is my pleasure to welcome you to the annual veterans day ceremony at the wall. before we begin the formal program, i would like to recognize all of the goldstar family members we have with us
today. the mothers, fathers, wives, siblings, spouses, nieces, .ephews, and sons and daughters all of those who have experienced the loss of a loved one and no all too well the sacrifices that our military families make. waitinglly, to those for the return of their loved ones who are listed as missing, thank you for joining us. [applause] jim knotts: i would also like to take a moment to thank the wall volunteers. they are in the yellow jackets. and the staff from the memorial fund that they do all year round. they truly put everything they have to making the experience of every visitor at the wall as meaningful as it can be. [applause]
jim knotts: and my last thank you today goes to our 35th anniversary commemoration sponsors, cbs, hullabaloo, murray, mr. and mrs. fred w smith, land of the free credit union,ir the slater foundation, usaa, and wells fargo. thank you for helping us make today's ceremony and all we have done to mark the anniversary of the wall possible. [applause] jim knotts: before we look at our program today, we will recognize our pows and mias. i call your attention to our chair which occupies a place of dignity and honor on our stage. let us always remember to never
forget their sacrifices. now i would like to start with an invocation. i would like to welcome our chapman who lead us. >> you could please join me in prayer. as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of this wall, let us always remember those who served and those who are here today and not here today. we commemorate those names on the wall and we pray for those here today that still carry the scars from service in vietnam. we asked for your presence in mighty name, amen. now i would like to introduce the joint arms, armed forces colorguard from the military district of washington for the presentation of colors. color guard, please present the
brave? ♪ me of the [applause] jim knotts: please remain standing while army lieutenant general charles a dozen the pledge of allegiance and remains standing as the color guard requires death retires the colors. >> thank you. my name is lieutenant general chuck petey. behalf of the acting secretary ryan mccarthy and general mark millie, chief of staff for the army, and if i may add my father and father-in-law who were both vietnam veterans, i thank you for being here and the privilege of doing the pledge of allegiance. place your hand over your heart and join me. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america
jim knotts: please be seated. the vietnam veterans memorial fund hosts this ceremony each year in partnership with the national park service. at this time ever like to welcome the secretary of the interior as our partner in today's ceremony. ryan zinke he is a former navy seal. a veteran, he understands the importance of remembering the sacrifices of those who serve our nation for military service, and we are pleased to have him join us a few days ago to rename -- read names on the wall. welcome, secretary zinke. [applause]
ray zinke: well, happy veterans day. all of us have a different experience about vietnam. my experience was growing up in whitefish, montana. every veterans day, the parade would go by. my grandfather owned a chevrolet dealership and would give me a flag. i remember the veterans marching by. at that time, the veterans would warh by the year and the that they fought. i remember the doughboys. they had their weapons shouldered. and they marched brilliantly. followed by the world war ii veterans. at the time there was a lot of world war ii veterans area -- veterans. i recall them growing up in my lifetime were always the ones
that were civic leaders, in charge of the lion of and the kiwanis club -- still lions club and the kiwanis club and were pillars. in the korean war. my stepfather was a marine, semper fi. , andught in the korean war they marched. then i remember the child looking at the vietnam veterans. up front he was marched differently. the war was a different war. us he's ant behind usferent monument -- behind is a different monument then all of the other in this great mall. monumentn compare the to the world war ii monument, the glory, size, majestic
monument, compared to the monument behind us but as low, on the horizon. when i was in congress, on the , oneanniversary of the war of my greatest honors was to give pins to the veterans that served in vietnam. and the experience of the vietnam war was different than mine. vietnam came to me. i remember watching it with walter cronkite every night. i remember my parents watching the war. when you came home, it was a different experience than what i. . the number of veterans that served that war always talk about coming in to either san francisco, ticking off the
uniforms, throwing them in trash , that is a different experience than what i experienced. i came home without elation, thanks, support your troops, bands. a lot of the reason why i received what i did in my generation is because you did not. i think as a nation, we should at how we viewed your service. your dedication. me i thinkt behind is not a tribute to victory or defeat. it is a tribute to remember it. -- remembrance.
we should never run away from the history of our country. we should learn. when i served in the seal team for 23 years, 1985, most of my 's thattors were seal had served in vietnam. they cut their teeth in the jungles and the rivers. i learned a lot from those fine warriors. you,e learned a lot from those that have fought. commitment,ed dedication, sacrifice. and i thank you.
telik quick story why i say semper fi to every marine i see. -- tell a quick story why i say semper fi to every marine i see. i sleep better at night knowing general mattis has the military. [applause] ray zinke: and i say you know god loves us because general kelly is in the white house area but when i was in fallujah, i was in the front lines. i was a deputy commander special forces in iraq. we were looking at what was going on in fallujah. became top of the marine corps and general mattis who was the division commander. i showed him what we were doing, going in a houses, going over where they were, laying it out. i went on. this young sergeant next to me
-- bear in mind i am the commander. the sergeant grabs me by my collar and nearly throws me down . when i got up and shook myself and i am red in the face, i go up to him and he said they are shooting at you. [laughter] ray zinke: and for you marines, semper fi. thank you. [applause] jim knotts: last -- ray zinke: last i just want to express how grateful i am to be your secretary and how grateful our nation is for you magnificent vietnam veterans area and for those family , share in the understanding that we are a better nation for your service. with that, god bless.
[applause] jim knotts: thank you, secretary zinke. now please welcome diane carlson evans, a vietnam veteran, founder of the vietnam veteran women's memorial foundation. [applause] diane evans: thank you. we are grateful to be here for the 37th anniversary because it means we are survivors. we are here, we are together. exactly one year from today, we will celebrate another anniversary, the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the women's them oriel, which stands behind you and is goodacre.y glenda one of the women who this honors is with us today to share her story as an army nurse in
vietnam. we are proud of kate o'hare palmer. she was commissioned as a secular turn it in the -- lieutenant -- second lieutenant from california at the age of 21. she served as an operating room nurse and emergency room nurse at 21 at the second surgical hospital, then and the 312 evacuation hospital in 1968 and 1969. kate came home like most of us wanting to get on with her life, have a family and continue with her nursing career. there were bumps in the road. however, her commitment to her fellow veterans has always been there. her career in nursing has spanned 30 years. her story can be found in the book officer, book, -- officer, nurse, woman.
returning home, she completed berkeley.ree at usc she has held the vietnam veterans of america national chair for the past five years. she has worked with legislators and community members at the state and national level fighting for veterans' rights and veterans. kate never gave up in her care of veterans. she continues to sit on the fda medical center women's health committee and works with various education committees at the high school and college levels to enhance the knowledge of where and veterans. please give kate o'hare a warm welcome. [applause] thank you,-palmer:
diane, for that wonderful introduction. it is amazing to me. i have been coming here for years, sitting out there with you all, now i am appear to tell my story. and i wanted to say this is a special anniversary, the 35th. i was here for the 25th, for the parade. this is amazing. last month i opened a fortune cookie, and its that you will be traveling and coming into a fortune. i traveled from california to here, and here is my fortune, my brothers and sisters. welcome home. [applause] kate o'hare-palmer: i want to share just a short bit about my time as an army nurse in vietnam. i transitioned home, and the current needs of women veterans who have served in the military, my military service truly began in my home because both my parents were in the army air force during world war ii.
my mother scrambled eggs in the morning and was teaching us more's code. code.se i could have used that sos a few times in vietnam. my brother tom was an infantryman in 1965 and 1966. i saw his pictures come home. he was in a hospital, and i wanted to help. i was a nursing student. it was that simple. i raised my right hand with three of my friends, and we took the oath to support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies. i believed this. i have a constitutionalist. the war was permeating our lives , and i did not know how much men my heart, my mind, and my soul would be tested.
june 1968vietnam in the day after robert kennedy was assassinated. within two hours of july, i was in the hospital operating room scrub in. after three weeks i began to wonder how i was going to make it. working between the emergency and operating rooms, i saw injuries and carnage that no one could be prepared for. even though i trained at a 5000 bed l.a. county general hospital. i was grateful for the training i received before i went over, and it helped with my first tracheotomy to save a life. the teamwork with all of the medics, nurses, and doctors i was able to work with was hard to beat and will be forever remembered. we were a team. marineort the first
division antiquark in 68. -- some of us were engaged or married to men serving in the military. not only were we caring for those in our hospital. we were worrying when we see our guy coming in on a litter? the 312 evacuation hospital july,e unit came up to and second surge was sent down to the other city, and we changed our support mission. in the spring of 69, the long-range reconnaissance control brought american soldiers who have been killed as just held as pows in cambodia. there were severely mutilated. some of their genitals cut off, and they were barely alive. one of them asked me to let him die.
he did not want to go home like that. i just talked to him the -- hugged him. my duties were never ending. my compassion was being drained. ,y soul was terry -- tearing and no one that wants, no one that is in a war ever wants were to continue. over the kate took last few months in country. it was too much. coming home to travis air force oakland depot,he we had protesters threw rotten vegetables on us. we were not repair for that. i was buffered in the early 1970's by being at fort stewart, georgia with my husband, and i worked at a local hospital while the south vietnamese soldiers were being trained to fly helicopters in vietnam.
they were getting ready to go over. the war followed me home. happened tod thing me. i start having dreams, bad dreams, blood dreams, covered in blood because i was an operating nurse.room they started intruding to my daytime life, and i called them .y daymares after being in vietnam and being so strong, i felt weak and know whatd i did not to do. it broke up my marriage because i did not want to tell my husband after being so strong that i was so scared and weak. those memories were relegated to a subconscious, and i returned to san francisco and finished college. one night working at the v.a. san francisco, a patient came up to me and said, you were my angel. i recognize your blue eyes and
and i will never forget when you said you are safe. you will go home. it was stunning to meet somebody who was alive. we cry for all of these names. all of these men and women that died. to meet someone that made it back was the beginning of our healing. the dedication in 1993 of the women's memorial was an ecstatic day for us. we were back together and acknowledged. the effort, energy, and support to get this together was herculean. brothers.eeted by our many had their military records and were looking for their nurses, clerks, women they worked with in intelligence or aircraft maintenance. they were looking for the american red cross workers who .ad flown into their lz
these thank you's and hugs that we got and two new -- and continue to get when we are here are so warm and amazing to us. diane smith it encircled healing has truly begun. the circle is weaving through us, and it was only the beginning of a long road home for many of us. i am grateful to the vet center because they really helped me. they gave us back our pride and honor in our service when we were feeling less than whole. 2% of the vietnam era, the military were women because there was a cap on how many women can serve. now there is almost 15% women that serve. over 200,000 served in vietnam era, but is more now -- it is more now. what i wanted to mention because there are so many areas that
need advancement, and we continue to help with that -- women experience topic -- toxic fellow soldiers. the vietnam veterans of america and other veteran service organizations have toxic exposure and research act passed last year but that's only the beginning. you need to keep on, everyone, so that we get the benefits and the care that we deserve after toxic exposure. it's for our children and our grandchildren now. you need to keep on everyone so that we get the benefits and the care that we deserve after toxic exposure. it's for our children and our grandchildren now. timely care is needed at the v.a. healthcare. gynecological care should be standard in all v.a. hospitals. it's a goal, but it hasn't been met yet and infertility in both women and men that serve the country or in other areas today that have toxic exposure is
something that we need more work on. v.a. benefits need adjudication for women veterans. adjudication. suicide and homeless rates for women veterans are on the rise, and we need to look at that and help. military sexual trauma care is a sore point. in 2014, we had a bill passed that was supposed to hel suicide and homeless rates for more ever again. [applause] the forever g.i. bill that just passed will be greatly used by our veterans that have been delayed entry back to school for either family, mental health, or medical reasons.
the majority of us veterans, all of us, we have gone home, served in our communities, been in places of leadership, and we continue to work with ourselves and others. we need to stand and work and live together always, because we are special. we are. thank you, i'm proud to be a veteran and welcome home. [applause] >> thank you, kate. it is now my pleasure to introduce maya lin. she was a student at yell, where she won the design competition for the memorial that thrust her into the national spotlight.
35 years, she has gone on to have a successful career as a designer and artist. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome myelin -- maya lin. >> thank you. i'm so deeply honored to be here today, veterans day. the day our country sets aside to honor our nations veterans. the design of the vietnam veterans memorial was always meant to do just that. remember and honor the veterans who served in the vietnam war. and remember those who did not come back. it's hard to believe it has been 35 years since this dedication. almost 37 years ago, i stood here for the first time, looking at this beautiful park. i have no idea what was to come over the next two years. as did here and had a simple impulse, to cut open the earth
and to polish the earth's open sides. to realize this design was not an easy journey. it was full of controversy and emotions on all sides. the walls does occasion, i was here. a that time, i was met by very angry, very emotional vietnam veteran on the eve of the dedication. as he raged at me, i could not help but to think how the pain and memories that that veteran was experiencing that made him lash out at me signified that the memorial was beginning to work. by creating a space that would allow a returning veteran to remember that time and although those memories would at times be emotionally charged and painful,
it is only when we can honestly face that loss and that pain that we can begin to overcome it. processhartic hearing -- healing process that has become so much of this space was always at the heart of this design. i have been fortunate through the years to have received so many heartfelt thanks and letters from veterans, from family members who have lost a loved one, from a psychiatrist to help veterans with ptsd who wrote about are the final step of therapy was to bring veterans to the wall. it is i who need to thank all of you for your service and sacrifice. it has been a deeply moving experience for me. at the time i must confess it wasn't the easiest of projects. was the average age of a vietnam service member. i was 21 going on 22. although my battle and what we all went through to build this is nothing compared to what you
ofured, maybe it was part the story of the vietnam war and its aftermath. i also want to acknowledge and give thanks to those who were instrumental in realizing this design. the small group of vietnam veterans who work so hard to set up the idea to give congressional authorization to hold the competition and then to whether an incredible political to janrm to get it built scrub, the founder of the vv mf, whose idea was to build a memorial pillar. [applause] ofwas created by small group the nonveterans, robidoux beck, ron gibbs, jack wheeler, colonel don shake, some of whom are here today. sadly, for those who are not still with us. they fought so hard to help
realize this design. to cooper leckie, the architects of record, to henry architect, landscape who had originally designed this beautiful park in constitution garden. two j carter brown of the fine arts commission, and so many commissioners who shepherded the project through the numerous planning meetings in d.c., and so many senators and veterans,n, generala gold star family's and volunteers, who made this memorial a reality so it can stand today and have the effect it does on millions of visitors each year. it wasn't the easiest of designs to understand before it was built. since it connects to you in a very personal and psychological way. was to as the artist keep that design simple and pure controversy,tics,
and serious alterations and for all the myriad design details that helped make this what it is today. i envision cutting open the earth and polishing its open sides, the walls would not be massive, but instead thin and light, so the names alone become the object. that the walls would be polished to a mirrors shine. so you see yourself reflected in the names. that the depth would be enough to offer you refuge, but not enough to become oppressive. that it had always to be of human scale, and that as you descend, the names rise of to meet you -- rise up to meet you. and that you would be able to find your time on the wall, and connect with your fallen colleagues. i was intently focused on creating a work that would talk to each one of you individually, yet also to have you seem to
gather as a family -- seam together as a family. serviceyou and your would become a part of the very fabric of our country. so that you become an honored and storied part of our nation's history. i cannot imagine what you endured overseas, only to come home and not be welcomed home by the country that asked you to serve. i believe so strongly that the politics of that war have been so divisive that this memorial had to rise above that. that this memorial could not let the politics of the war color your service, sacrifice, and your loss. we must never forget the heroism and sacrifice that you and your fellow veterans have made for our country.
and that this memorial helps you welcome home, and it helps some of the turmoil and pain of that war and to embrace you and honor you in our nation's capital, i'm deeply honored to have played my part in your story. thank you. [applause] >> i know every single one of us here today would like to come up to her at the end of the ceremony and offer a personal stinks -- thanks.
she has to leave quickly and catch a flight to london. theink we all can use loudness of our applause to let her know exactly how much her design of this memorial means to all of us. [applause] it is now my distinct honor to introduce our keynote speaker for today, vietnam veteran enlisted in the army, senator coursebraska and, of chairman of our 35th anniversary committee 24th secretary of defense chuck hagel. >> thank you. ouretary zinke it to all of
distinguished leaders that i have the privilege of sharing the podium with, thank you to our vietnam veterans and their families and all of our veterans all here. thank you. thank your service, thank you for being here, thank you for .haring a special day we are not just be a non-families, but all of our veterans in our active duty men and women. wordsresence, your reflect as well as anyone can what this memorial means, what it has meant, and it will continue to mean to future generations. maya thank you, once again. i want to add my personal thanks group of individuals she me mentioned.
part ofpeople that were working through the difficulty of getting this memorial built at a difficult time. maya, you mentioned members of congress, they are two specific individuals that i have had the pleasure of not just serving with, but getting to know over the years. two senators without whose support i don't think this would have been built. senator john warner from virginia, and the late senator mack and feiss from maryland. these two individuals really made it happen. [applause] today, this memorial was dedicated. it was built to honor, remember, and recognize the sacrifices of over 58,000 americans.
and all the men and women who served in a confusing and unpopular war in a very distant land. this memorial was built for future generations so they would learn from this war, and would always remember that wars have serious and lasting consequences. i said in my remarks at the groundbreaking for this remote 35l 35 years ago -- memorial years ago, there is no glory in war, only suffering. with all the suffering vietnam veterans endured and saw, they also witnessed uncommon courage and compassion. there was heroism all around, but mostly, it was that they did the job the country asked them to do. their commitment to each other, and their individual common decency and belief in their them.y sustained
nearly 3 million american men and women served in vietnam. they returned home not asking for favors or special recognition. they didn't wallow in self-pity or the lack of thanks our respect that they did not receive. they rebuild their lives, understanding better than most that the price they paid included a large measure of injustice. not all succeeded, many struggle, and still struggle from that experience in that faraway land. i i wrote these remarks, looked at photos of my brother, tom, who served with me side-by-side in vietnam. he and my father in the south pacific during world war ii. pictures, iat those wondered what a 21-year-old charlie hagel and his buddy were
thinking in 1944. are fought by human beings, machines don't fight wars, people fight wars, men and women fight wars. those who survive wars are either embittered, or inspired to make a better world. like all veterans in america's wars, vietnam veterans chose the latter course. war gives one clarity, it helps you see what it really -- what is really important in life. all vietnam veterans should be proud of their hard-earned clarity in service. we should be proud of each other. its owneration faces unique challenges, unique to their time and history. these challenges are not of the soldiers making. different times, different wars, different political currents all
dictate wars and reasons for fighting wars. every generation of americans answered their country's call. today, veterans of iraq and afghanistan, and our current servicemembers are no different. vietnam veterans answered their call and served with honor. historians have written that the comedy equation for mankind through a history that is -- that has determined the strength of societies is challenged response. how each generation responds to the challenges of its time. those societies that responded well learned and adapted, and andsted always prospered helped make a better world for all people. wellonveterans responded to their generation's challenges
-- vietnam veterans responded well to their generation's challenges. their recognition came far too late. look around you now. it is here today. i have always believed that the greatest responsibility of leaders is to lead their institutions and those they lead better than they found it. to serve as role models. ourve often heard from servicemen and women today from iraq and afghanistan that they looked to the vietnam veterans for courage and inspiration. vietnam veterans did serve as role models, and are now the senior statesman of the veteran's community. justice, world war ii, and korean war veterans before them. last week, i attended the groundbreaking for the eisenhower memorial to be built
near the capital. that it was the vietnam veterans memorial, this memorial, that led the way for the next two american war memorials to be built on these sacred grounds of lincoln. to the eisenhower memorial speakers reflect on the greatness of this soldier statesman, a theme emerged clearly that captured ike's life. humility, dignity, and quiet leadership, hallmarks of veterans of every war. vietnam veterans were no different. to our vietnam veterans, celebrate your day of recognition, you have earned it, you deserve it. and thank each other, for you are the quiet heroes of your generation.
god bless you all, thank you. [applause] >> secretary hagel, you are a true public servant, and i am on her to call you a friend. -- i am honored to call you a friend. allow me to direct your attention to the representatives of several of the nations leading service organizations. many of them are leading the stage. years, these service organizations have joined our tradition of laying wreaths at the vietnam veterans memorial in honor of the followin -- the fallen. while they get in position, i want to share a few highlights
of what has been a busy year for the vietnam veterans memorial fund, the founders of the wall. recently, the effort to put a face to every name on the wall passed a major milestone. of the 58,318 photos we have been seeking, less than 4500 photos are left to meet our goal. [applause] i would ask you, if you have photos of anyone on the wall, please make sure they are part of our wall of faces. you can find it through our website vvmf.org. 2 vietnamnducted 41 veterans into the in memory on a roll, which honors those men and vietnamo served in the war and later died as a result of their service. as we do each year, we conducted
them into the honor roll, we do it right over here overlooking the wall. in march, we commemorated the groundbreaking for construction of the wall 35 years ago. we were lucky enough to have remembrances from the retired vietnam veterans memorial fund resident and founder jan scruggs and the executive director of the fund, robert do back, who is with us today. day, jan was our master of ceremonies and our speakers were ken burns and lynne novick, codirectors of the recently released documentary called "the vietnam war." we released a book service announcements, starring gary sinise, tim burns, lynn novick, and the incomparable ann-margret.
thanks to all of them for supporting our efforts. [applause] we are ending our anniversary commemoration this week with the reading of the names honoring maya lin, and hearing from the only enlisted vietnam veteran ever to serve as secretary of defense, chuck hagel. through all of these activities, and with all of our speakers, we maintain the commitment the wall was built on, never forget. i will now read the names of the organizations as they lay their wreaths today. i would ask you to please stand if you are able. while they are being played, you will hear bagpiper chris jackson playing amazing grace for the 19th year. today's ceremony will close with the playing of taps by master sergeant ofaster
the president's own united states marine band. the organization is laying wreaths. national parks service. fund.m veterans memorial vietnam women's memorial. american gold star mothers. operation freedom bird. paralyzed veterans of america. america. wives of the 101st airborne division. calvary decision
association -- division association. touch.d daughters in battalion seventh calvary association. division.try military order of the purple heart. board. veterans advisory quads andusters searchlight association. vietnam veterans of america. 8:00-9:00 ptsd class washington. veteranson of vietnam of america. vietnam memorial volunteers and
this concludes our ceremony, thank you for coming. [applause] >> the american war in vietnam raged 50 years ago. but967, it was lbj's wars consumed presidents from jfk to robert -- two florida. american tv looks aback that this divisive war with 48 hours of coverage and first-person accounts from vietnam war veterans and antiwar protesters. all is american history tv weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> c-span where history unfolds the daily.
in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's public television and brought you today by your catalog -- by your stable -- by your cable or satellite provider. as amembering to vietnam national archives exhibit featuring the documents and artifacts organized into 12 episodes raging in southeast asia 50 years ago. up next, american artifacts, an interview with the archivist of the united states followed by a tour with curator alice kamps. this is just under half an hour. , what was thest reason for the vietnam exhibit? >> the commemoration of the anniversary of the war it self and national archives, the keeper of the country, commemor