For the first time on the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), in partnership with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), will read the names of the nearly 7,000 American service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice since the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Americans from across the nation will join together to read the names of these heroes in the order they were taken from us on May 24, 2014.
All Americans are encouraged to request an opportunity to read names at the National Reading of the Names: Post-9/11 Heroes event. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. EST on April 14.
"Those who have served in the wake of 9/11 - and their families - have done so selflessly and admirably. They have, in many cases, sacrificed greatly. They have earned description as 'America's New Greatest Generation.' And it is fitting and good that we will honor the fallen of that generation by the Reading of the Names,” said Gen. David Petraeus, USA (Ret.)
More than three decades ago, Jan Scruggs, the founder and president of VVMF, 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.
When VVMF hosted the first reading of the names, Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of IAVA, was just one year old. Like Scruggs, he 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.
Additional supporters and endorsers of the National Reading of the Names include House Speaker John Boehner, former President Jimmy Carter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the American Gold Star Mothers, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The reading of the names will begin on Saturday, May 24 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.
For more information on participating, click here.