5 quotes from families about what the In Memory Day Ceremony meant to them
The families and friends who come together at the annual In Memory Day Ceremony on the National Mall are dedicated to honoring the memory of their loved ones who died from service-connected illnesses. Many of them have spent years seeing their loved ones struggle with the effects of their exposure to Agent Orange, or flashbacks and nightmares as a result of PTSD.
They share similar stories of loss as they speak of the emotional and physical wounds their loved ones carried with them since the Vietnam War ended. Finally, they see they are not alone. One by one, they approach a podium with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial behind them and say their veteran’s name in the place our nation has set aside to remember them.
For many, the In Memory Day Ceremony is a long overdue recognition. For others, it is the first time their loved one has been publicly recognized for their service.
Sacrifice does not have one face or one story. An untold number of veterans have had their lives cut short as a result of their service. Causes of death that fit the criteria for inclusion in the In Memory program include: Diabetes, cancer, Cholangiocarcinoma, Hodgkin’s disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
Here are 5 quotes from families who attended the In Memory Day Ceremony in 2017 on what the day meant to them.
“I was shocked at how many families were affected by the veterans who died as a result of the war. It brought back those years and how unpopular the war was. It was nice to see some recognition of the sacrifices. I was glad to see the plaque near the Vietnam wall and it makes me feel good to know that my husband’s name is documented in a permanent place as having paid a big price for his service in Vietnam.” -Karen A. of New Hampshire
“I was very moved not only by the ceremony and the emotional impact of having loved ones read the honorees names, but also at the overwhelming sense that all those in attendance were there for the same reason. They all suffered loss in the same way. For me that was a…sense of unity. Although we all walk different paths in life, these people know full well the pain of losing your loved one due to the effects of Agent Orange and other injuries and medical issues caused by the Vietnam War. It is something that not everyone understands. Everyone in my party felt the same way. We all felt a sense of healing. We also felt grateful for the recognition these men and women finally received.” -Mary B. of New York
“My daughter researched and filed for her dad to be part of the virtual [Honor Roll]. She and the grandchildren have had a difficult time losing their father/grandpa at such an early age. This event has brought them into Don’s past and helps to keep [him] in their present and future.” -Chris R. of Illinois
“Thank you again for making this a wonderful experience. You made us feel at ease with the pain that still exists in my wife’s family, 25 years after the loss of her father and almost 50 years since his service in Vietnam.” -Christopher S. of Connecticut
“I loved being able to publicly honor my husband and the suffering he lived with and meeting others in the same life.”- Lori B. of California
The families who lost a loved one after the Vietnam War are keeping the promise that was made when The Wall was built in 1982 – the promise to never forget those who served and now, later sacrificed.
In Memory has honored more than 3,200 veterans. A memorial page for every veteran in the program can be found on the In Memory Honor Roll at: http://www.vvmf.org/Honor-Roll.
This year’s In Memory Day ceremony will be held on June 16 on the East Knoll of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The deadline for loved ones to apply to honor a Vietnam veteran for the ceremony has been extended to March 23. To honor a loved one this year, you can submit an online application. Along with the application, you need to submit the veteran’s DD214 to show their proof of service in Vietnam, a copy of their death certificate and a photograph. You can fill out an online application at: http://www.vvmf.org/InMemoryProgram.