Honoring our servicemembers this Memorial Day
This Memorial Day is a special one for our nation as this year marks the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War. Many mornings when I’m at work in D.C., I run on the National Mall and stop at Vietnam Veterans Memorial to remember those who served our country. There are more than 58,000 names etched into that black granite and today I keep them particularly close.
When the Vietnam war ended, our troops returned home to little fanfare, few welcome home ceremonies, and no parades. Having served three tours of active duty in the war, I know firsthand how disappointing this was. I was honored to speak at the National Mall for the Opening Ceremony at the National Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration. The milestone anniversary commemoration was authorized by Congress, established under the secretary of defense, and launched by President Barack Obama in 2012. Congress penned a total of five objectives, with the primary being to thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the Nation. Watch the full opening ceremony, watch my message at the event, and read more about the event in The Washington Post and Stars and Stripes.
The special message I gave on the National Mall is the same I want give to all of our veterans: Welcome Home.
We are also celebrating 50 years since the homecoming of United States prisoners of the Vietnam war, and we will never forget those who remain missing in action. Fathers, uncles, brothers, nephews, nurses – Americans whose service we will never forget, and whose sacrifice we will never stop honoring.
I introduced and passed a bipartisan, bicameral resolution with Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas to honor the extraordinary sacrifice and service of the approximately 766 members of the Armed Forces held captive during the Vietnam War. In 1973, 591 of those prisoners were released by the North Vietnamese, while over 110 died in captivity. The remainder are considered missing in action. I was honored to present the resolution when I provided the keynote address at the 50th Anniversary Vietnam POW Homecoming Reunion Dinner at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, which was a recreation of the largest dinner in White House history to honor the hundreds of Vietnam war POWs and their families.
Many families across Delaware, including mine, have a long legacy of service to this country. One way I like to commemorate this day is with a visit to Dover Air Force Base. As one of the busiest air bases in the Armed Forces, it is also one of the most sacred. It serves as the first destination for the repatriation of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is here, in Delaware, that so many are given the solemn, dignified arrival fit for their heroism. To all of you in Delaware and across the country, Happy Memorial Day and may we honor all of our servicemembers today and every day.
God Bless America,