tv Veterans Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial CSPAN December 30, 2017 5:37am-6:38am EST
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. i'm the ceo of the vietnam veterans memorial fund. i will be your master of ceremonies today. it is my pleasure to be the first to welcome you to the veterans day ceremony at the wall. before we begin the formal program, i would like to the gold starof family members we have with us here today. fathers, wives, siblings, spouses, nieces, nephews, and sons and daughters in touch. all of those who experienced the loss of a loved one and know all too well of the sacrifices that our military families make. to those still waiting for the return of their loved ones who are listed as missing. thank you for joining us.
[applause] i'd also like to take a moment to thank the wall volunteers, they are the folks you see in the yellow jackets and hats. of the vietnam veterans memorial fund for all they do year-round to honor veterans and reserve the memorial. they truly put everything they have into making the experience of every visitor at the wall as meaningful as it can be. [applause] my last thank you today goes to our 35th anniversary commemoration sponsors. alan bucklew, william, ian did smith.r. and mrs. fred w land of the free foundation. the slater foundation, usaa, and wells fargo.
thank you for helping us make today's ceremony and all we have done to mark the 35th anniversary of the wall possible. [applause] before we begin our program, we will pause to recognize our pows and mias to call your attention to our pow mia chair, which occupies a place of dignity and honor on our stage. let us always remember and never forget their sacrifice. i'd like to start our program today with an invitation. please welcome our chaplain, major luis, who will lead us in the invitation. please join me in prayer. father, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of this wall, let us remember those who
have served. and those are that are here today, and those that are not. we pray for those that are here today that still carry the scars from service in vietnam. we ask in your precious and mighty name, amen. >> now i would like to introduce the joint armed forces color guard and the military district of washington for our presentation of colors. if you would stand, please.
and the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there. does that star-spangled banner yet wave, free, andnd of the the home of the brave. [applause] >> please remain standing while army lieutenant general chars lead -- charles leads us in the pledge of allegiance.
my name is lieutenant general chuck petey on behalf of our acting secretary ryan mccarthy and general mark millie, our chief of staff, if i may add, my father and father-in-law, who are both vietnam veterans. i thank you for being here and for the privilege of leading you in our pledge of allegiance. if you would please your hand over your heart and join me. flagdge allegiance to the of the united states of america. to the republic for which it stands one nation under god indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
in partnership with the national parks service. like to welcome the secretary of the interior as our partner in today's secretary -- their money. veteran hehe, as a understands the importance of the sacrifices of those who serve our nation through military service. we are pleased to have him join us to read names listed on the wall. welcome secretary zinke. [applause] happy veterans day. of us have a different experience about vietnam. my experience was growing up in a town called whitefish, montana. day, a parade would go by. my grandfather owned a chevrolet dealership and would bring me to the curb and give me a flag. i remember the veterans marching
by. the time the veterans would march by the year and the war they fought. i remember the doughboys, they had their weapons shoulders. and they marched brilliantly. followed by the world war ii veterans. ofthe time, there was a lot world war ii veterans. you may call the world war ii veterans growing up in my lifetime with the ones that were civic leaders in charge of lions club and the kiwanis club. there were the icons and the pillars of our community. war, my stepfather was a marine, semper fi. war, and in the korean they marched. i remember as a child looking at the vietnam veterans.
marched, you're always a little differently. the war was a different war. us is ament behind different monument than all the other monuments in this great mall. if you can compare the monument to the world war ii monument, the glory, size, majestic of that monument compared to the monument behind us lies low on the horizon. congressman, on the 50th anniversary of the war, one was toreatest honors give tens to the veterans that served in the vietnam war. the experience of the vietnam war was different than mine.
me, ir in vietnam came to remember watching it every night. my parents with me. .atching the war when you came home, it was a different experience than what i experienced. a number of veterans that served that war always talk about coming into either san francisco , taking off the uniform, throwing them in trash cans. that's a different experience than what i experienced. when it -- when i came home, adoration, thanks to troops. bands. a lot of the reason why i myeived what i did, and generation, is because you did not. i think as a nation we should be
how we viewed your service, your dedication. the monument behind me, i think, is not picture be to victory or defeat. it's a tribute to remembrance. we should never run away from the history of our country. we should learn. when i served in the seal teams 1985, most of my instructors were seals that had served in vietnam. teeth in ther
jungles and the rivers. finerned a lot from those warriors. i have learned a lot from you, those that have fought. commitment, .edication, sacrifice and i thank you. to tell a quick story, why i say semper fi. i say to every marine i see. i thought with general mattis in i canion -- in fallujah, to you every night knowing general matters as the military -- general mattis has the military.
when i was in fallujah, i was in the front lines, i was a deputy commander spencer forces in iraq -- special forces in iraq. conway, what later became the comment on record, general mattis was the first marine division commander. i showed him on the frontline line what we are doing, going to save houses where the snipers were. our order -- laying out our order of battle. this young sergeant next to me, bear in mind him the commander, this young sergeant grabs me by my collar and nearly throws me down. i get up, shake myself off, i'm red in the face. i go up to him, he says sir, they are shooting at you. before you marines, semper fi, thank you.
-- for you marines, semper fi, thank you. iwant to express how grateful am to be your secretary, and how grateful our nation is for you magnificent vietnam veterans. ,or those family members today share in the understanding that we are a better nation for your service. with that, god bless you. [applause] >> thank you secretary zinke. please welcome diane carlson evans, a vietnam veteran nurse and founder of the vietnam veterans memorial foundation. [applause] >> thank you. forre grateful to be here
the 35th anniversary, because it means we are all survivors. we are here together. one year from today, we will celebrate another anniversary, the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the vietnam women's memorial, which stands behind you and designed by glenn a quaker. in thishe women memorial honors is with us today to share her story as an army nurse in vietnam. we are very proud of kate o'hare palmer. she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army nurse corps in 1967 from seal beach, california at the ripe old age of 21. she served as an operating nerd -- operating room nurse at the ripe old age of 21, at the second surgical hospital. and the 312 evacuation hospital and 69.in 1968
she 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 "office earners woman
medical center women's health committee and works with various education committees at the high school and college level to enhance the knowledge of women veterans. please give kate o'hare a warm welcome. [applause] >> thank you, diane, for that wonderful introduction. it's amazing to me, i've been coming here for years sitting out there with you all, now i'm up here to tell my story. i wanted to say that this is a special anniversary, the 35th, i was here for the 25th, this is amazing. last month, i opened up a fortune cookie, and it said you
will be traveling and coming into a fortune. i traveled across from california to hear, and here is my fortune, my brothers and sisters, welcome home. share a short bit about my time as an army nurse in vietnam, my transition 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 corps during world war ii. my mother scrambled eggs in the morning and was teaching us more's code. i could have used that sos a few times in vietnam. tom, was on inr, country veteran in 1965 and 66. i thought his pictures come home, he was in a hospital there and i wanted to help. i was a nursing student.
it was that simple. upon graduation, i raised my right hand with three of my toends and we took the oath support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies. i believed this, i am a constitutionalist. the war was permeating all of our lives and i didn't know how then my heart, my mind, and my soul would be tested. ofent to vietnam in june 1968, the day after robert kennedy was assassinated. inc.n two hours of hit july -- hitting july, i was in the hospital operating room scrub in. after three weeks, i began to wonder how i was going to make it. between the emergency and operating rooms i saw injuries and carnage that nobody could be prepared for.
out ofough i trained 5000 bed l.a. county general hospital. i was grateful for the training that i received in the army before i went over. it helped me with my first tracheostomy to save a life. the teamwork of all the medics, nurses, and doctors that i was able to work with was hard to beat and will be forever remembered. we were a team. insupported the first cav america now and marine divisions in ichor in 68. some of us were either dating, engaged, or married to men who were also serving in the military. not only were we caring for those in our hospital, we were worrying would we see our guy glitter?n a letter -- that evacuation hospital reserve unit came down to chulai and
second surge was sent down to free core and we changed our mission to support big red one. i know there's a lot of you hear. 19 69, theng of long-range work on in patrol brought to as american soldiers who had been held as pows in cambodia. mutilated,everely some of the genitals cut off, and they were barely alive. one of them asked me to let them die, he didn't want to go home like that. i just hugged him. my duties were never ending, my hands continued to work, but my compassion was being drained. and no one tearing, that wants, no one that is in a war ever wants war to continue. over thoseate took
last few months in country. it was too much. coming home to travis air force base and bust into oakland people, we had protesters throw rotten vegetables on us. we were not prepared for that. i was buffered somewhat in the early 70'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 back in vietnam. however, the war followed me home. on unexpected thing happened to an unexpected-- thing happened to me, i started having bad dreams. because i wasod an operating room nurse. they started into eating into my daytime life, i called them my day mares. after being in vietnam and being so strong, i felt so weak and
scared, i didn't know what to do. it broke up my marriage, because i didn't want to tell my husband after being so strong that i was so scared and weak. those memories are relegated to a subconscious, and i returned to san francisco and finished college. one night while i was working at the v.a. san francisco, a patient came out of his room and said you were my masked angel, i recognize your blue eyes and your voice. i will never forget when you said to me you are safe now, you will go home. it was stunning to me to meet somebody that was alive. we cry for all of these names, we cry for all of these men and women that died. but to meet somebody 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 knowledge. the effort, energy, and support to get this project computed -- completed were herculean. on that day, we were greeted by our brothers. 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 had flown into their lz. these thank you's and hugs that we got, and continue to get every time we come here, are so amazing to us. diane's message in circle of healing was truly begun. the spiritual component of healing was a weaving through us, and it was only the beginning of a long road 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. during our vietnam era, 2% of the military were women, the cusp there was a cap on how many women can serve. now there's almost 15% women that serve. over 250,000 served during the vietnam era, but it's much more than that now. what i wanted to mention, because there's still many areas that need advancement. we continue to help with that. exposureerience toxic related to cancers and ptsd like our fellow soldiers. vietnam veterans of america and other major veterans service organizations have worked tirelessly to help get that toxic exposure and research act passed last year, but that's only the beginning. you need to keep on everyone, so
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. health care. stec and gynecological care should be standard in all the hospitals. it's a goal, but it hasn't been met yet. infertility in both women and men that serve in country or that in other areas today have toxic exposure is something we need more work on. v.a. benefits need inclusion of comparable claims and adjudication for women veterans. 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 help take care of that. it's not enough, we need to say no 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.
>> we are live at the national archives in washington, d.c., when they have just opened an exhibit on the vietnam war. we are here with jerry sego. why are you out here with these vietnam era helicopters? >> to help the archives bring attention to this remember vietnam series, and help us, our continuous goal to honor the vietnam veterans by our display with a vietnam era helicopter. >> sometimes the vietnam war is referred to as the "first helicopter war." why is that? >> the