Highlights from Memorial Day 2014

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Photo credit: Jules Clifford

This Memorial Day, thousands congregated to The Wall to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. On this special day, prominent Americans from all walks of life came to the Memorial to deliver thoughtful and patriotic speeches. CNN’s Jake Tapper was our emcee and Mike J. Rogers was our keynote speaker. Other speakers included adamant VVMF volunteer Janna Hoehn of Hawaii. Janna spoke about her unyielding journey as a volunteer for our Faces Never Forgotten program, helping collect photos for fallen Vietnam servicemen. And Gold Star Mother Ann Wolcott, mother of  Rex M. Sherman, discussed the challenges of losing her son to war and her journey to healing. And for the first time, VVMF invited the winner of its first-ever student video contest to participate in its Memorial Day Observance! Before Memorial Day, VVMF asked students in grades 4-12 to submit a video that answered the following question, “What does Memorial Day mean to me?” Videos had to be 5 minutes or less in length, were judged by a panel of Vietnam content experts and the winning video was chosen by our social media audiences. The winner was 11th grader Bianca Olivieri.  You can watch her video here. Bianca was kind enough to share her experience of an all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., and her thoughts on taking part in our Memorial Day Observance at The Wall.

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Photo credit: Bill Petros

My name is Bianca Olivieri and I was the winner of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund documentary contest for “What Memorial Day Means To You” My documentary was focused on the younger generation and how most perceive it to be a day off of school, a day to go to the beach, or even a day to enjoy sales. Before making my documentary, I never realized how many people either did not know what Memorial Day was or confused it with Veterans Day. The video not only brought to light to others what we are losing in our nation, but it also brought me more self-awareness that we must be able to do more for our Veterans who are still with us, and honor those who sacrificed for us… …This being my first time in Washington D.C., I wanted to see everything and go everywhere. One of the stops on the first day was at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Viewing it for the first time was emotional. There were so many names and so many people searching for their loved ones. It brought tears to me and my mother’s eyes. It was definitely a memorable memorial and I highly recommend anyone going to D.C. to take a stop at the Vietnam Memorial Wall….On Memorial Day, I was fortunate to be a part of the ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial Wall sponsored by VVMF. Saying the pledge in front of all the amazing veterans and other viewers made me a bit nervous, but I went through with it and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony. The ceremony was heartwarming, touching, and a great event (that I also highly recommend for visitors). Overall my trip and stay through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was one of the most eye-opening experiences. It showed me the joys of Washington D.C., brought me in contact with some amazing people, and most of all I got to see how the Vietnam Memorial Wall affects people everyday. Thank you to all of the people who made this possible by supporting my documentary and to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund staff who made this arguably one of the greatest trips in my life. Watch highlights from this year’s Memorial Day Observance at The Wall.

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