The Memorial Day 2012 ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will begin the national commemoration of the Vietnam War’s 50th anniversary. The Department of Defense’s Office of Commemorations is working with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and National Park Service for a special and inspiring ceremony to thank and honor America’s Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service, valor and sacrifice.
This year, the Secretary of Defense will host over 2,500 Vietnam Veterans, Gold Star family members, wounded veterans from military and other hospitals, and other distinguished guests. Veteran Service Organizations associated with the Vietnam War, each branch of the military services, as well as the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and other governmental leaders will also have representatives attending the event.
It will be impossible to accommodate everyone who wishes to be present in front of The Wall for the Memorial Day ceremony but arrangements are being made to provide an additional viewing area on the knoll just to the East of The Wall within line of sight of the event. In addition, attendees will be able to see the events unfold on a JumboTron viewing screen at the site.
Security will be very restrictive and each person attending in viewing areas will need to successfully pass through a magnetometer and restrictions will apply, as to what can be carried into the viewing areas (no bottled water or food, no knives, no weapons of any type, no sharp metal objects such as nail files, etc. will be allowed past the security screening points).
Expected attendees at the ceremony include the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs, Senator Chuck Hagel (a Vietnam Veteran) as well as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of the Interior and other cabinet officials. Emmy and Golden Globe award winning actor and Vietnam era Army Veteran, Tom Selleck, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. He will be joined by the Marine Band and the Army Chorus. In attendance will be General Barry R. McCaffrey and Jan Scruggs of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and other veterans and their family members.
During the ceremony, wreaths will be laid by Veteran Service Organizations, Gold Star family members and military leaders. Taps and a moment of silence will follow the wreath laying and flyovers by military aircraft culminate the tribute to America’s Vietnam Veterans and begin a series of nationwide commemorations.
The objective of this special ceremony is simple:
TO THANK AND HONOR THE SERVICE, VALOR AND SACRIFICE OF VIETNAM VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES.