Why Commemorating the Vietnam War Is More Important than Ever

By Susan M. Puska, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)

Participants in the KANAVA-sponsored 2016 Vietnam Veterans Commemoration held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  

Participants in the KANAVA-sponsored 2016 Vietnam Veterans Commemoration held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  

On June 29, 2018, at 11 am, Vietnam War Commemoration Commemorative Partners and the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, seek to bring together all Vietnam Era Veterans and families to be recognized in a ceremony called “Honoring Vietnam Veterans at the Soo Rapids,” to be held at Brady Park. Thousands of Commemorative Partners have been working with local communities across the United States since 2009 to honor the service of Vietnam Era Veterans and their families, with special honors paid to the families of the fallen, missing, and Prisoners of War for their courage and sacrifice. This year, we are also conducting a special by name recognition of the spouses of Vietnam Veterans who have since lost their loved ones. We are welcoming Native Americans and First Nations Vietnam Veterans, as well as Canadians who served in the Vietnam War for the U.S. Armed Forces. The Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will also be displayed.

Recognized by The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration as extending from 1 November 1955 to 15 May 1975, the Vietnam War remains a painful and complex chapter in America’s modern history, one that demands continued historical study, remembrance, and reflection.

Unlike World War I, for which we observe the 100th anniversary of its end this year, the Vietnam War is fresh and unfinished business for the approximately 6.6 million veterans who served and are still with us, as well as the 9 million families who have been directly affected by that war. As the Vietnam Era Veterans age, the war’s human legacy is reflected in escalating rates of Agent Orange related cancers, physical pain, addiction, homelessness, and suicide. High suicide rates among all generations of our veterans claim an estimated 20 lives daily across America, with the Vietnam Veteran being the hardest hit.

As Vietnam War Commemoration Commemorative Partners, we are committed to honoring Vietnam Era Veterans and their families, and we take it as our first task to demonstrate our respect for the service of all Vietnam Era Veterans.

Our second priority is to preserve the stories of Vietnam Veterans in military history interviews conducted by a team from the History & Legacy Branch of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, which will ultimately be submitted to the Library of Congress military history program.

We invite all Vietnam Era Veterans to be recognized on June 29, 2018.

Additionally, if you are the spouse of a deceased Vietnam Era Veteran or if you qualify (but have never been previously honored) for the special honor categories of Former, Living American Military POW or surviving spouse; immediate family of Unaccounted For; or immediate family of In Memory Of (those who are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC); and will attend the ceremony on June 29, 2018, please send an email to info@kanavainternational.com.

For those Vietnam Veterans who would like to participate in the military interviews, to be conducted between June 27 and July 2 at the Ojibwe Learning Center and Library, 531 Ashmun Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, advance scheduling and coordination are required. If you would like to be interviewed, please contact Andrew Ringlee, PhD, at andrew.j.ringlee.civ@mail.mil.


Susan Puska