Veterans Day at The Wall to bring thousands together to celebrate service
Each year on Veterans Day, thousands of veterans and their families congregate at The Wall to remember and to honor those who served in the U.S. armed forces. On these special days, prominent Americans from all walks of life come to the Memorial to deliver thoughtful and patriotic speeches.
This year’s Veterans Day Observance at The Wall will be at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. It is free and open to the public. *To be noted: The Concert for Valor, which has an expected attendance in the hundreds of thousands, will highly increase traffic. See below for road and metro closures.
The Honorable Charles T. Hagel, Secretary of Defense, United States Department of Defense. A Vietnam veterans himself, Hagel will provide the ceremony’s keynote remarks. During the Vietnam War, Hagel served in the 9th Infantry Division from 1967 to 1968, reaching the rank of sergeant. He received two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He served in the same infantry squad as his brother, and they saved each other’s lives on different occasions.
Jake Tapper to lead the ceremony as the Master of Ceremonies for the day’s event. CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper joined the CNN network in January 2013. His one-hour weekday program The Lead with Jake Tapper debuted in March 2013. The program seeks to examine and advance stories that demonstrate Tapper’s own curiosities and interests with headlines from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, and sports to popular culture. Tapper has been a widely-respected reporter in the nation’s capital for more than 14 years.
Robert A. Vogel, the Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks will open the ceremony with the welcome of everyone in attendance. As Superintendent, Vogel oversees a $31-million budget, a staff of over 300, and visitation near 25 million visitors annually. Vogel assumes management and day-to-day operations of this nation’s icons, including the Washington Monument and the Lincoln, Jefferson, World War II, Vietnam Veterans, Korean War and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials as well as all of East Potomac Park and Hains Point and the entire length of the National Mall from 1st Street west to the Potomac River.
Major General James A. “Spider” Marks, USA (Ret.), Executive Dean, University of Phoenix to give remarks. Though he did not serve in Vietnam, two of the most influential men in his life did: his father and his wife’s father. “One was wounded; one was killed. The story of our families’ sacrifices reflects the sacrifices made by so many in all wars,” Marks recalls. Graduating from West Point Academy in 1975, after the fall of the American embassy in Saigon, he felt the aftermath of the war in his own backyard. As America was torn during the Vietnam War, he believes that generation of military leaders stood firm. As the son of a soldier who married the daughter of a soldier, Marks prays that his service is worthy of their example.
Diane Carlson Evans, founder and President, Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation to provide remarks about women in service. An RN in Vietnam from 1968-69 and part of the Army Nurse Corps from 1966-72, Evans initiated and led the effort to add the Vietnam Women’s Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site. The Women’s Memorial honors the nearly 11,000 women who were stationed in Vietnam during the war.
Arlene Adams-Cataldo, a U.S. Army Nurse Corps veteran will also provide remarks about her service in Vietnam. Cataldo was a young Registered Nurse who joined the United States Army Nurse Corp in the latter part of 1968. She along with three girlfriends volunteered for service in Vietnam. She served in the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Chu Chi in 1969-1970. Since returning to civilian life, Arlene began working with veterans who suffered from PTSD, and Alcohol and Substance abuse.
Performance of “Amazing Grace” by Chris Jackson, a bagpiper who has been performing at VVMF events since 1998. Chris, who plays for the love of the instrument, considers it “an honor and a privilege to be part of something that is so very special.” Especially on Veterans Day, Jackson feels “it important to give something back to those that have sacrificed so much. Being able to play for them is always a very humbling experience.” While performing at The Wall is something Jackson enjoys doing, he feel a very personal connection as well. His father-in-law, Maj. Paschal G. Boggs (USMC), was shot down over North Vietnam in August of 1967 and was never recovered. Being a former Infantry Officer (Army) and coming from a long line of military service dating back to the Civil War, Jackson’s has a closeness to our veterans’ service he truly cannot put into words.
2014 will also mark the 30th Anniversary Commemoration of The Three Servicemen Statue. Born out of a controversy surrounding Maya Lin’s design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, many veterans and political figures searched for a more heroic, traditional depiction of those who served. The statue was unveiled on Veterans Day in 1984, two year’s after The Wall’s completion.
For more information on VVMF events, click here.