WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the first time, the names of the nearly 7,000 American service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty since the attack on 9/11 will be read on the National Mall. Americans from across the nation will join together on Saturday, May 24, 2014 to read the names of these heroes in the order they were taken from us. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), in partnership with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), will host the ceremony.
The reading of the names will begin at 9 a.m. with a brief introductory ceremony at the East Knoll of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and will continue until each of the names is read aloud. The ceremony will include remarks from: The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense; The Honorable John McHugh, Secretary of the Army; General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.); Major Heather Penney, USAFR and Captain Jason Haag, USMC (Ret.) and board member of K9s for Warriors.
"On this day we'll commemorate the heroism of men and women in uniform who have given their lives for our nation during the past 13 years of war, knowing that whenever we remember them, we are helping to preserve the honor of their sacrifices for generations to come. By reciting their names at this revered memorial, we are also linking them to the sacrifices and heroism of those who fought in generations past. More than letters on a page or etchings on a Wall, it is the memory of their actions that sustains us, and we must never forget their courage and their sacrifice on our behalf," said The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense.
More than 450 Americans will be participating in the Reading of the Names, including General George Casey, USA (Ret.) and General David Petraeus, USA (Ret.).
"Since the day we announced this event, the response and support from the public, as well as political and military leaders, has been overwhelming. We've had hundreds more Americans inquire about reading names than we have reading slots available. This incredible show of support, including the generous sponsorship of Texas philanthropist Red McCombs, will make this an event of national significance. VVMF is pleased to partner with IAVA on this ceremony and welcome Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for this day of honoring these warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Jan Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Red McCombs, Army veteran and longtime VVMF supporter, is the presenting sponsor of The Reading of the Names.
Additional sponsors include: Title Sponsor - William F. Murdy; Major Sponsor - IAVA; Supporting Sponsors - American Gold Star Mothers, General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.), General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), Richard and Jean Schmidt, and Jan and Becky Scruggs.
More than three decades ago, Scruggs envisioned a ceremony honoring the 58,000 American heroes killed in Vietnam by reading their names aloud. The 1982 reading of the names took three full days and began a healing process that focused the nation's attention away from the war itself and toward the warrior instead. VVMF has since hosted four additional reading of the names ceremonies, most recently in 2012.
Like Scruggs, Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of IAVA, has seen the magnitude of sacrifice by Americans of his generation in defense of freedom in an often divisive war.
"After more than a decade of war it is highly appropriate for these men and women to be honored on the National Mall and for every American citizen to reflect on the sacrifices this generation has made in service to their country. We call on our members to join in this solemn ceremony, whether in Washington or in their own homes, and to commit that the names of those who gave their lives will never be forgotten," Rieckhoff said.
Those who lost their lives in defense of freedom in the post-9/11 era will also be honored in the new Education Center at The Wall, a multi-media learning facility to be built on the National Mall that will feature items left at The Wall, photographs of the 58,000 who lost their lives in Vietnam, and a timeline of the Vietnam War.
For the full list of supporters of The Reading of the Names and more information, go to http://www.vvmf.org/reading-of-the-names. For those who can't be in Washington, DC for the event, a live webcast of the event will be available on VVMF's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vietnamveteransmemorialfund and www.vvmf.org. Follow the conversation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vvmf with the hashtag #NROTN.
About VVMF and the Education Center at The Wall
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.
The Education Center at The Wall will be a place on our National Mall where our military heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten. With plans to begin construction in 2016, the Center is a technologically-innovative learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact that the Vietnam War and other wars had on their friends and family members, their hometowns and the nation. The Center will feature the faces and stories of the more than 58,000 men and women on The Wall, honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served. The Center will also celebrate the legacy of service that links the heroes of America's past to those still serving today.
Learn more about the Education Center at The Wall by visiting www.VVMF.org or by calling 866-990-WALL.
Contact: Heidi Zimmerman
Phone: 202-393-0090 ext. 118
SOURCE Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund