News Release: Russert to Speak at VVMF In Memory Day

23 March 2006

Nationally recognized journalist Tim Russert will be the featured speaker at the annual In Memory Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on April 17, announced Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Founder and President Jan C. Scruggs. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

In Memory Day is the yearly ceremony that pays tribute to those who died prematurely from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by the Vietnam War, but who do not meet Department of Defense guidelines for having their names inscribed on The Wall. Many of their deaths are due to Agent Orange exposure or as the result of post traumatic stress disorder. More than 1,000 family members and friends from across the country visit the nation's capital to participate in this ceremony

Russert is the managing editor and moderator of “Meet the Press” and also serves as political analyst for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” program. In addition, he anchors “The Tim Russert Show,” a weekly interview program on CNBC and is a contributing anchor for MSNBC. He also serves as senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News.

In his 2004 national best-selling book, Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life, Tim Russert wrote about his Buffalo, N.Y. neighbor, Paul Geary, who served in Vietnam. Geary died in 1999 as a result of his service in Vietnam. In 2002, he was inducted into the In Memory Honor Roll at the request of his mother, Dorothy Laughlin.

After the war, Paul returned to Buffalo and bought a home, which he opened to Vietnam veterans and others down on their luck. As a tribute to him, the Geary family furnished a room in a hospitality house in Buffalo serving out-of-town patients seeking treatment at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Russert will be sharing the podium at this year's In Memory Day Ceremony with members of the Geary family, who will be talking about the loved one they lost and what the In Memory program has meant to them. Paul Geary is one of four Vietnam veterans from Russert's hometown of South Buffalo, N.Y., who have been honored through the program.

In addition to Russert's remarks, the In Memory Day Ceremony will feature family members reading aloud the names of the 86 new inductees into the 2006 In Memory Honor Roll. Throughout the ceremony, friends and volunteers will read aloud the names of all 1,515 past honorees. (View 2006 Honorees)

Tim Russert has won many television and journalism awards, including an Emmy in 2005 for his role in the coverage of the funeral of President Reagan. His election 2000 “Meet the Press” interviews with George W. Bush and Al Gore won the Radio and Television Correspondents' highest honor, the Joan S. Barone Award and the Annenberg Center's Walter Cronkite Award.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund began conducting In Memory Day Ceremonies at The Wall in 1999 as another way to honor those who served during the Vietnam War.

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is the nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Today, through a series of outreach programs, it is dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall, promoting healing, educating about the impact of the Vietnam War and is building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an underground educational facility, near The Wall.
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