Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

News Release: Memorial Day At The Wall

24 May 2009

Thousands of veterans, family members and friends are expected to gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 25, for the Annual Memorial Day Observance at The Wall.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Peter M. Holt, CEO of Holt Companies and the San Antonio Spurs. A Vietnam veteran, Holt served two years in the U.S. Army, including one tour in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars for Valor and the Purple Heart. Earlier this month, Holt accepted the position as chairman of the Campaign to Build the Education Center at The Wall, a learning facility that will be built on the National Mall near the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials.

Also speaking at the ceremony will be Air Vice Marshal Kym Osley of the Embassy of Australia. A member of the Royal Australian Air Force since 1977, Osley has held many positions, including Director of the Combined Air Operations Centre in the Middle East from November 2006 to March 2007 when he was deployed to Iraq. Last July, he took up his appointment as head of Australian Defence Staff (Washington) and Australian Defence Attache at the Australian Embassy. In his remarks, Osley will remember some of the Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

Dr. Heidi Kraft, deputy coordinator for the U.S. Navy Combat Stress Control program, has also been invited to speak. A retired Navy Lieutenant Commander, Kraft has served in Iraq and is working to change the way the military takes care of its wounded. She is the author of Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned In A Combat Hospital, which was published in 2007.

Providing special musical entertainment at the Memorial Day ceremony will be Sam Moore of the soul duo Sam & Dave. The Grammy winner will perform several songs, including “Amazing Grace.”

One of the highlights of the Memorial Day Ceremony each year is when the newest names that have been added to The Wall are read aloud, thus making them “official.” Earlier this month, one name was added to The Wall:

Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Valdez, USMC, Santa Fe, N.M., Panel 17W, Row 51

His four children, Rick, Tina, Yolanda and Lyndora, will be present at the Memorial Day ceremony to read their father’s name for the first time at The Wall.

In addition to the featured speakers and family members, these individuals will also take part in the ceremony: Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, will be the master of ceremonies. Diane Carlson Evans, founder and president of the Vietnam Womens Memorial Foundation, and Karen Cucurullo, acting deputy superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks, National Park Service.

The annual Memorial Day ceremony is hosted yearly by the Memorial Fund and the National Park Service to pay tribute to members of America’s armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam and in all conflicts. The event is free and open to the public. The Embassy of Australia is sponsoring the event.
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