More than 30 years after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the malaria-filled jungles of Vietnam, March 29 stands as a monument to the heroic actions of American armed forces service members who gave their lives in the stand against tyranny and communism.
Vietnam Veterans Day honors the men and women who fought in the Vietnam War on behalf of the U.S., recognized since 2012 after current President Barack Obama proclaimed it a national holiday.
"Eleven years of combat left their imprint on a generation. Thousands returned home bearing shrapnel and scars; still more were burdened by the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress, of Agent Orange, of memories that would never fade," said President Obama in his proclamation speech. "Our veterans answered our country's call and served with honor, and on March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam. Yet, in one of the war's most profound tragedies, many of these men and women came home to be shunned or neglected -- to face treatment unbefitting their courage and a welcome unworthy of their example. We must never let this happen again. Today, we reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations: to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us. Half a century after those helicopters swept off the ground and into the annals of history, we pay tribute to the fallen, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served, and the millions more who awaited their return. Our Nation stands stronger for their service, and on Vietnam Veterans Day, we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude."
3 million U.S. service members served during the Vietnam War, the death toll of Americans surpassing 58,000. Ceremonies and events across the country will honor the fallen and the living, many of whom have their names forever stamped on the black wall in Washington D.C. that was erected to commemorate their actions.
In Anchorage, a ceremony is being held in honor of Alaska Vietnam veterans at the Egan Center at 6 pm, and discussions led by veterans will continue until 9 pm.