This Veterans Day marks the 40thanniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
It’s commonly known as the Wall — for the nearly 60,000 names inscribed on the reflective black granite for the Americans who gave their lives in service to their country.
The Wall has been the site of many presidential visits of the past four decades — including on Veterans Day.
For Veterans Day 2022, the C-SPAN podcast “The Weekly” looks back at the 40-year history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by remembering Presidents who have visited and what they said.
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I express In those two most important words in our Language By Heartfelt thanks to each of you thank You for coming You cared enough To be here today And the pictures of you now being taken Will be recorded in posterity For you indeed are a living Memorial To this Testament that will be here Forever after to these brave men and Women In the history Of our nation Never has there gathered in the nation's Capital A group of veterans on a more important Occasion than this We're here today To dedicate a monument A monument which will stand As a symbol of everlasting hope Hope That the human sacrifice Of the servicemen and William And their families Will serve as a check and a balance Far greater than any laws passed by Congress November 13 1982 on the mall Near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC the dedication ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial You heard keynote speaker Senator John
Warner Republican of Virginia Senator Warner volunteered to fight in World War II in Korea and was Secretary Of the Navy during the Vietnam war he Led the efforts to get initial funds to Build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial the Wall as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is Commonly known was dedicated 40 years Ago Since then it has been the site of many Official events including many Presidential visits in this episode of C-span's podcast the weekly we Mark Veterans Day by looking back at the 40-year history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the presidents who have Visited the essence of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the names when the Wall was dedicated in 1982 there were 57 939 names inscribed on reflective black Granite They are the names of U.S casualties Those who gave their lives and those who Remain missing during America's Involvement in the Vietnam War from 1959 Through 1975 when he offered remarks to The Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 11 1988 President Ronald Reagan noted the names We remember today that all our gentle Heroes of Vietnam Have given us a lesson in something more A lesson in living love Yes for all of them those who came back
And those who did not Their love for their families lives Their love for their buddies on the Battlefields and friends back home lives Their love of their country lives This Memorial has become a monument To that living love The thousands who come to see their Names testified to a love that endures The messages and mementos they leave Speak with a whispering voice That passes gently through the Surrounding trees into out across the Breast of our peaceful Nation A childhood teddy bear a photograph of The son or daughter born too late to Know his or her father A battle ribbon A note there are so many of these and All are testimony to our living love for Them On November 11 1992 Ronald Reagan's Successor as President George H.W bush Also attended a Veterans Day ceremony at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial he had Just lost re-election a week earlier When he got back to the White House that Veterans Day President Bush told the Press Corps about his experience Uh I had a chance To thank about 200 veterans there I read Some of the names Those names that appear on the wall and In as much as this Veterans Day I just
Wanted to take this opportunity to Thank all veterans for their service to This country and to suggest to all those In this country that haven't had an Opportunity to see especially to see the Memorial for the Vietnam veterans Is a very moving tribute I've been there Several times before but it uh But uh Was extraordinarily moving for Barbara And me and I just want to take this Opportunity to Thank the Veterans for their service to This great country of ours President Bill Clinton spoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1993 but not on Veterans Day on Memorial Day that made Him the first president to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day but on May 31st 1993 President Clinton was met with booze and Cat calls From Vietnam War veterans who weren't Forgiving his avoiding the draft and Anti-war positions as a student The rough reaction was evident and it Was audible when President Clinton spoke About the wall itself [Applause] [Music] Times but the message of this Memorial Is quite simple These men and women fought for freedom Brought honor to their communities love Their country and died for it they were
Known to all of us There's not a person in this crowd today Who did not know someone on this wall Four of my high school classmates were There Four who shared with me the joys and Trials of childhood and did not live to See the three score in 10 years the Scripture says We are entitled to Let us Continue to disagree if we must about The war But let us not let it divide us as a People any longer President Barack Obama also visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on a Memorial Day May 28 2012. the ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War when John F Kennedy was President Obama too took notice of the names on The wall 50 years later We come to this wall To this sacred place To remember We can step towards its granite Wall Reach Out Touch a name Today is Memorial Day when we recall all Those who gave everything In the darkness of War So we could stand here in the glory of
Spring And today Begins the 50th commemoration Of our war in Vietnam We honor each Of those names etched in stone 58 282 American Patriots We Salute all who served with them And we stand with the families Who love them still For years You've come here To be with them once more And in the simple things you've left Behind Your offerings Your mementos your gifts We get a glimpse of the lives they LED The blanket that covered him as a baby The baseball bat he swung as a boy A wedding ring A photo of the grandchild he never met The boots he wore still caked in mutton The medals she earned still Shining And of course some of the things left Here have special meaning known only to The veterans A can of beer A packet of M M's A container of spam An old field ration Still good Still awful We close by returning to where we
Started November 11 1982 back to the day The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was Dedicated The closing prayer offered by a veteran Of the Vietnam War Arnold reznikov Rabbi resnikov entered the Navy as an Ensign his first assignment was in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam Part of an operation called game warden His ship was the first in Cambodia His 1982 prayer began with a theme of Suffering some 2500 years ago Prophet Jeremiah cried out with words Filled with pain and anguish words of Despair Words which might have come out of the Mouths of our Vietnam veterans until Today Why have we been smitten he asked and Then for us there was no healing but Rabbi resnikov ended his closing prayer With hope make this the beginning of the Time of healing that we all seek Help us is the terror and the pain of All who suffered because of War Help them and help us find the way to Peace God let this monument and this Dedication Forever remind us That we will come together to mourn our Dead We will come together to reach out to Our wounded
We will come together to remember and to Honor our brave That's it for this episode of c-span's The weekly a reminder you can do your Own searches in the C-SPAN video library Just go to cspn.org and use the search Bar on top you can find many more events Programs and memorials marketing Veterans Day and from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial itself thanks for Listening and happy searching