Entries in Vietnam (2)


Obama Recalls Vietnam Vets’ Treatment as ‘National Shame’

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his second address this Memorial Day, President Obama paid specific tribute to those perished during the Vietnam War on the 50th anniversary of its beginning.  He recalled the sacrifice of the troops who served there and the unjust blame that was heaped on them upon their return.

“It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.  That’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again,” Obama told vets and their families gathered at the Vietnam War Memorial on the national mall Monday.  “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.”

The 50th anniversary, Obama argued, is another chance to set the record straight and “tell your story as it should have been told all along.”

“That’s one more way we keep perfecting our union, setting the record straight.  And it starts today.  Because history will honor your service,” he said.  “And even though some Americans turned their back on you, you never turned your back on America.”

The president also said America must not forget about the 1,666 troops who are still missing from the Vietnam war nor the prisoners of war (POW) who returned home.

“Let it be said in those hell holes like Briarpatch and The Zoo and the Hanoi Hilton, our Vietnam POW’s didn’t simply endure, you wrote some of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history,” Obama said, referring to infamous prison camps set up by the North Vietnamese.

Obama admitted that there was still debate over when the actual war began.  While the U.S. had advisers there in the mid-1950s and major combat operations began in the mid-1960s, he told the story of one defining moment-one used as the peg for calling this the 50th anniversary.

“It was 1962.  It was January in Saigon.  Our Army pilots strapped on their helmets and boarded their helicopters.  They lifted off, raced over treetops carrying South Vietnamese troops.  It was a single raid against an enemy stronghold just a few miles into the jungle.  But it was one of America’s first major operations in that far away land,” the president said.

In all 58,282 were killed in Vietnam.  Their names are etched in the black granite wall that served as Obama’s back drop on Monday.

“It’s here we feel the depth of your sacrifice,” Obama said.  “We come to this wall -- to this sacred place -- to remember.  We can step towards its granite wall and 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.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama on Memorial Day Recalls the Fallen, Winding Down of Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Under bright, hazy skies at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spent his fourth Memorial Day as commander in chief honoring the hundreds of thousands of  soldiers who died serving their country, particularly in the Vietnam War, which began more than 50 years ago.

“From the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered the call,” Obama told hundreds gathered in the humid, midday heat at the cemetery, which is across the Potomac River from the capital.

 “They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they’ll never forget. While their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together. Side by side, row by row.  Because each of them loved this country and everything it stands for more than life itself.”

Heeding to custom, Obama also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, pausing to reflect and pray as a lone bugler played taps.

Obama took pains to point out that “for the first time in nine years Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq.”

That declaration drew applause, as did his pronouncement that “we are winding down the war in Afghanistan and our troops will continue to come home.

“After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,” Obama said, pointing out that the nation needs to remember not only the fallen but their families too.

“As a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone,” he said.

“Sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make,” Obama said. “I can promise you that I will never do so unless absolutely necessary, and that when we do we must give our troops a clear mission and full support of a grateful nation.”

The White House announced last week that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the National Park Service and the Department of Defense had launched a 13-year program to “to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

It was 50 years ago in January that the U.S. began to provide helicopter support to the South Vietnamese. That action grew into a 13-year conflict that took more than 58,000 American lives.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Vietnam War Memorial later today to pay further tribute.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio