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97 U.S. Heroes to be Honored at The Wall

09 April 2010


Ninety-seven American heroes from the Vietnam War era will be honored posthumously April 19 during the annual In Memory Day Ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

In Memory Day was created to pay tribute to the men and women who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by their service in the Vietnam War, but who are not eligible to have their names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The 12th annual In Memory Day Ceremony will be held on Monday, April 19, at 10 a.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. More than 600 family members, friends and fellow veterans will be visiting the nation’s capital to participate in this year’s event, which is hosted by VVMF. (For a complete list of honorees and their hometowns, click here.)

“In Memory Day allows the Memorial to do what it does best: provide a healing environment for family members and friends,” said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). “It also allows all of us to pay tribute to these brave Americans who served and sacrificed for their country.”

The event’s master of ceremonies will be Richard Schneider, executive director for government affairs for the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the USA, which has sponsored the event since 2004. Brig. Gen. George Price, USA (Ret.), a Vietnam veteran and key supporter of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during its creation, will be the keynote speaker.

The assembled family and friends will also hear from Thomas Buckley, husband of Lynda VanDevanter, who was honored at last year’s In Memory Day ceremony. VanDevanter served as a nurse during the Vietnam War and is probably best known for her book about her experiences, called Home Before Morning, which was the basis for the television series “China Beach.” Her book also called attention to the problems women veterans faced with post traumatic stress disorder.

Leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance will be Lynda Benedict, whose husband Christopher Benedict was inducted into the In Memory Honor Roll in 1998. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Lupo, who will journey all the way from Alaska to participate, will read his poem “Emotions,” which is a tribute to those who served in Vietnam.

In Memory Day
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial contains the names of 58,261 men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War. The Memorial’s black granite walls have always stood to remember all of the nearly 3.5 million who participated in the divisive and controversial conflict.

The Department of Defense developed specific parameters that allow only the names of service members who died of wounds suffered in combat zones to be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The In Memory program recognizes those men and women who have died prematurely as a result of the Vietnam War, but who do not meet the DOD criteria. Many of their deaths are a result of Agent Orange exposure and emotional wounds that never healed.

During the ceremony, family members read aloud their loved ones’ names in chronological order by date of death. Following the ceremony, participants lay tributes at the base of The Wall corresponding to the honorees’ dates of service in Vietnam, so that these Vietnam veterans come to rest near those comrades with whom they served. With the addition of this year’s honorees, nearly 2,000 individuals will be honored in the In Memory Honor Roll.

Sponsors of the ceremony include the Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) and the Clark Charitable Foundation.

Patriots Day
The annual In Memory ceremony is held on the third Monday of April. That date was chosen specifically to coincide with Patriots Day, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord at the start of the Revolutionary War—the first time Americans fought for freedom and democracy.
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