2020 In Memory Ceremony Cancelled

(Posted 07/8/2020 – 8:00 am EST)

After great consideration, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) has made the decision to cancel the 2020 In Memory ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We WILL NOT be holding the ceremony on September 26th. With existing increases in infection rates around the country, facility closures, gathering restrictions, travel limitations and future projections by D.C. and Virginia officials, we had no choice but to cancel.

At this point, we do not think we would be able to safely, legally or logistically hold an event of this size on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and we cannot predict when we will be able to do so, although we HOPE we will be able to hold an event on our normal schedule in June 2021.

This was an incredibly difficult decision for VVMF and we join you in your disappointment and frustration.

Here are some of the limiting factors we face:

  • The District of Columbia currently limiting public gatherings to 50 people, and will not project when their restrictions may expand to accommodate the crowd of 2000+ that usually attends the In Memory Ceremony
  • The National Park Service cannot issue a permit for a crowd this size while D.C. has this restriction.
  • Our host hotel is still closed. Although they plan to re-open by late July, they can’t guarantee all of their amenities will be in place in September – like the free airport shuttle many of you would take to/from the airport.
  • The transportation that VVMF provides as a courtesy for our attendees from the host hotel to the event site and back would have to be reduced because of social distancing/capacity limits currently in place for the buses.
  • We would have to distance chairs for 2000+ people, meaning some people would be pushed very far from the stage.  Mobility is an issue for many of our attendees.

At this time – we don’t want to confirm another ceremony date and let you down. None of us can see the future with where this pandemic is going. Our hope is to be able to host the ceremony in June of 2021. As decisions are made on our end – you will be the first to know. We look forward to providing you the in-person recognition that your veteran and your family deserve on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site when it is safe to do so. We appreciate your patience with this situation as it’s unknown territory for all of us and we’re doing the best we can.

You may ask – why not a virtual ceremony like some of the other virtual events we’ve done since the pandemic began. What makes In Memory different is the participatory nature of the event. You are part of honoring your loved one. It’s not just us on stage and you as a spectator. And for that reason – we have chosen not to go virtual with our annual induction ceremony.

If you currently have reservations at our host hotel, the Crystal Gateway Marriott, YOUR RESERVATION WILL BE CANCELLED – you will receive a cancellation e-mail for any September dates that you booked as part of the In Memory room block, from Marriott. If you booked outside of the In Memory room block you will need to cancel your reservation on your own.

The good news . . .

Your veteran is still a 2020 In Memory honoree! We will be moving forward with a 2020 In Memory t-shirt that includes the names of all 2020 honorees. When those go on sale, in the fall, you will receive an e-mail notification as well.

As you know, the online Honor Roll pages for the 2020 honorees have been up for over a week.  If you haven’t seen your honorees page yet, please follow the below steps:

  1. Visit the Honor Roll website at:  https://www.vvmf.org/Honor-Roll/
  2. Under the black search bar click on the words “Advanced Search”
  3. Enter your honorees first and last name in the search fields
  4. Scroll to the bottom and click search
  5. Click the yellow View Profile button for your honoree.

Once you are on their personal page you can review information, leave remembrances, upload additional photos and share their page with others.

Also, while The Wall That Heals mobile exhibit is idle right now due to cancellations related to the pandemic, once it’s back out on the road – your honoree will be included when we’re on display in their home state. To see the current schedule – barring any other pandemic-related disruptions – go here: https://www.vvmf.org/The-Wall-That-Heals/2020-Tour-Schedule/.

We have finished emailing out DRAFT personal Tribute Certificates of honorees to the applicants.  Those who have emailed a correction that needed to be made will be receiving an updated tribute certificate via email for approval in the near future.

As always, any questions, reach out to us at inmemory@vvmf.org.  Please keep in mind that we have nearly 600 families with 2020 honorees, but there is still only one of me answering everyone’s questions. It will be easier for myself and for you if you reach out via email – so I can easily access your questions and respond quickly. Our office is temporarily closed so email is better than phone calls and email helps us keep track of 600 families better than phone conversations.

To ensure that you have received this message, please reply to this e-mail and confirm that you received this update. We also need your help in making sure this information is passed on to all in your party.

We appreciate your patience during this evolving situation, and we thank you for your understanding.

The most current information on In Memory can always be found on our website at:  www.vvmf.org/inmemory and we encourage you to join our In Memory Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/InMemoryFamilies/.