The Nixon Library hosted the second largest celebration of National Vietnam War Veterans Day in the country, only surpassed by the gathering at the National Vietnam War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Today’s event was held on the fiftieth anniversary of the last combat troops leaving Vietnam on March 29, 1973.
Over 175 Vietnam War Veterans, along with their families and supporters filled the Nixon Library’s East Room as a Vietnam Veterans Monument was dedicated in their honor. The monument depicts a Marine running through the jungles of Vietnam in 1971-72. Artist Ron Pekar described the design process which included meeting with veterans and putting on all the gear of a combat Marine of the era.
The Honorable Robert Wilkie, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, delivered keynote remarks, stating:
When President Nixon entered the White House there were 600,000 Americans in South Vietnam. One of them was a young Major on his second tour from New Orleans. It was my father. In those times America was in retreat and facing the greatest internal conflict since the Civil War. When Richard Nixon left office my father was at home because one man deeply believed in building a generation of peace. So it is fitting and proper that this magnificent monument is on the grounds of President Nixon’s birthplace.
Vietnam War Veterans in attendance were presented the Nation’s Official Vietnam Veteran lapel pin by Secretary Wilkie and were served lunch along with their families. The Vietnam War Monument is installed near the presidential helicopter, Marine One, as a permanent tribute to all those who served in the United States Military in the Vietnam War.
In addition to the commemoration in Yorba Linda, six wreaths were placed at memorials in the Washington, DC area in honor of veterans of the Vietnam War on behalf of the Richard Nixon Foundation. These memorial sites include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, the U.S. Air Force Memorial, the U.S. Coast Guard Memorial and the U.S Navy Memorial.