BLUF: Join the nation in thanking our Vietnam veterans this weekend. From May 11-13, the Department of Defense (DOD) will host the Welcome Home! event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to honor Americans’ valiant service in Vietnam. The event will feature formal ceremonies, multimedia celebrations, historical and interactive exhibits, and live entertainment, including nightly concerts at sundown. All events are free and open to the public. See daily agendas at the bottom of this article.
Like a leprechaun village, Camp Legacy will have appeared overnight on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the morning of May 11.
Helicopters will have arrived from the Vietnam War. Armored amphibious vehicles will be at their posts. Seventy-seven tents plus two large tent pavilions will be ready for museum curators, service organizations, Gold Star families, allied servicemembers, Veterans Affairs counselors, Vietnam veteran nurses, Native Americans, Donut Dollies, pilots, Medal of Honor recipients, and dog handlers. They will set up their exhibits and prepare to thank, honor, and offer a long-due “Welcome Home” to the men and women and their families who served during the Vietnam War.
See related story: “I love you…Over.” The Coast Guard's Vietnam-era ham radio on display at Camp Legacy this weekend
May 11 is the opening day of the Vietnam War Commemoration’s “Welcome Home!” event running through May 13. It is part of the Nation’s congressionally chartered effort to use the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families, who will be individually recognized and ceremonially presented with a Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin
The centerpiece for the May 11-13 event is Camp Legacy with 93 organizations exhibiting historic artifacts and providing veterans services on two sites divided by Independence Avenue: the JFK Hockey Fields adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and West Potomac Park across West Basin Drive from the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial. West Basin Drive itself will become a street scene with mobile units from the USO, Wreaths Across America, The American Legion, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, a Vet Center, and the Operation Purple Heart fire truck.
The keystone event will be a multimedia concert at West Potomac Park on Saturday, May 13, featuring Broadway, film, music, and sport stars and dignitaries with live music and video montages telling the story of the Vietnam War and paying tribute to the service, sacrifice, and contributions of our Vietnam veterans, their families, and the many who supported them.
Camp Legacy also will feature music and drill team performances on “The Parade Ground” adjacent to a large “Rally Point Tent” where veterans and families can gather and commune. The performances range from military and high school bands to a Native American flutist to the Angel Force Band comprising top award-winning musicians from across the country who have recorded and toured with Bob Dylan, The Who, Ella Fitzgerald, Rolling Stones, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. These musicians also will be jamming outside the Angel Force USA tent on the West Potomac Park site, promoting the organization’s message to raise awareness of the military suicide epidemic by stopping “Suisilence.”
Alternating with performances on the Parade Ground will be panel discussions inside the Rally Point Tent, addressing such topics as the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), Servicewomen in Vietnam, the mission to locate servicemembers still unaccounted for, and lessons from curators on how to preserve your family members’ Vietnam service artifacts. The Golden Knights Army parachute team will perform at West Potomac Park daily at 4 p.m.
Special programs during “Welcome Home!” include a celebration of International Nurses Day on May 12 featuring Vietnam veteran nurses and a wreath-laying at the nearby Vietnam Women’s Memorial. That night, the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team will host a “Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home at Nationals Park” with pregame ceremonies and an in-game salute.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is sponsoring a shuttle service from the Foggy Bottom Metro station to Camp Legacy, providing additional access for those with mobility impairments.
The Commemoration honors all veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, regardless of location as all were called to serve and none could self-determine where they were stationed. Since 2012, more than 3.6 million Vietnam veterans and their families have been publicly thanked by friends and neighbors during 25 thousand ceremonies hosted by our dedicated Commemorative Partners.
In the News: