More than 150 members of the Hawaii community honored the thousands of men and women involved in the Vietnam conflict during a Memorial Day eve candlelight ceremony held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific here May 24.
Among those in attendance were several members of Vietnamese Today’s Vision, a non-profit advocacy group that supports veterans and preserves and promotes Vietnamese culture.
The president of VNTV, Nina Nguyen, emotionally expressed her gratitude for the thousands of Vietnamese and U.S. service members who fought side-by-side to help her country escape communist oppression.
“We owe so much to those who sacrificed for us in Vietnam. We will never forget what they did to help free us from a regime that killed innocent people,” said Nguyen. “We honor them because they are the reason we are here today.”
In memory of more than 58,000 service members who were killed and more than 300,000 who were wounded in the Vietnam War, more than 100 bikers from the Vietnam Veterans/Legacy Veterans and Street Bikers United rode in a rolling thunder tribute before the event.
Along with a joint-service color guard, the U.S. Navy performed a rifle volley followed by the playing of Taps. Throughout the ceremony, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific band played a variety of patriotic songs.
Several veteran organizations also laid wreaths to honor not only those who gave their lives during the Vietnam war, but those who have fought in defense of the U.S. over the years.
“Not only do we honor the thousands who lot their lives in the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam, but everyone who has selflessly served to preserve freedom and democracy,” said Admiral Richard C. Macke (retired), the keynote speaker.
After the crowd lit their candles, a prayer was said in remembrance of the fallen and the U.S. Coast Guard performed a flyover, symbolizing a search for missing men.
“The Vietnam War was a noble cause marked by thousands of heroic acts,” said Macke. “These men and women would stop at nothing to stop the flow of communism through Southeast Asia. For that, they will never be forgotten.”