Congressional Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

WASHINGTON, D.C.Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate held a Congressional Commemoration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The following are Leader McConnell’s remarks delivered during the ceremony, which took place in Emancipation Hall, in the U.S. Capitol:

“Each morning, dawn breaks over the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort.

“Bars of light stream across the dome.

“A hall of democracy brightens with renewed purpose.

“And overlooking it, light pours onto 200 tons of granite and more than 1,100 engraved names — each, a Kentuckian who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

“An enormous sundial, casting a solitary shadow, marks the anniversary of every Kentuckian who fell that same day so many years ago.

“Kentucky’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, perched above a potent symbol of our democracy, powerfully honors the fallen and the more than 125,000 Kentuckians who served.

“It reminds us that dawn beckons for our country because of the sacrifices of the men and women of our armed forces. It reminds us that Americans live free through their courage and their determination.

“The debt of gratitude our country owes to veterans is enormous.

“Americans routinely demonstrate gratitude to our military men and women today. We showed it after World War II.

“But circumstances were different in the Vietnam era.

“Spit, not roses — scorn, not gratitude — awaited too many young service members upon their return.

“What a cruel homecoming for them. What a heartbreaking tragedy for their families.

“It should redouble our determination to ensure America’s debts are repaid to them.

“Today’s ceremony is but one example of our country’s resolve.

“But it’s hardly the only one.

“Over the years, Americans have worked hard to show those who fought in Vietnam that gratitude deferred will not be gratitude denied. So often, they’ve done so with two simple but powerful words.

“Thank you.

“Saying thank you to every American who served in Vietnam.

“Saying thank you to the millions of veterans still with us.

“Saying thank you to the families who once dreaded every knock on the door and every sleepless night.

“And also saying to the thousands of Americans who fell in service to their country, to those who still remain unaccounted for and to every loved one left behind: that our country honors you, that our country thanks you, that our country will not forget you.

“Not just today, but every day.

“Kentucky honors its fallen Vietnam veterans in unyielding granite, overlooking a symbol of enduring democracy.

“In Washington too, the wall of the Vietnam Memorial sits just beyond the Capitol — continuingly reminding Americans of the sacrifice, the honor, and the thanks each of us owe to so many others.

“Our country will not forget it.”

Related Issues: Veterans, America's Military, Tributes