The Commemoration’s primary objective, as penned by Congress, is to thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation.
Congress also articulated four additional objectives for the Commemoration: to highlight the service of our Armed Forces and support organizations during the war; pay tribute to wartime contributions at home by American citizens; highlight technology, science and medical advances made during the war; and recognize contributions by our Allies. (TAB A)
2017 Proclamation: Commemoration runs through Veterans Day 2025. (TAB B)
2012 Proclamation: Launched Commemoration. (TAB C)
Vietnam Veterans Day:
On March 28, 2017, the president signed into law The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 (PL 115-15), designating every March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. March 29, 1973 is the day the Military Assistance Command Vietnam was deactivated.
Who We Honor:
The Commemoration recognizes all who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of duty location; and their families.
We make no distinction between veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and none could self-determine where they were stationed.
November 1, 1955 was selected to coincide with the official designation of Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam (MAAG-V); May 15, 1975 marks the end of the battle precipitated by the seizure of the SS Mayaguez.
Additional Background: U.S. involvement in Vietnam started slowly with an initial deployment of advisors in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965. The last U.S. personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975.
Commemorative Partners are local, state and national organizations, businesses, corporations and governmental agencies that have committed to conducting two commemorative events or activities annually over a 3-year period in cities and towns all across America. Our partners publicly thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families on behalf of the nation. (TAB D)
Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin:
As a lasting memento of the nation's gratitude, the Commemoration designed a Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin for Commemorative Partners to publicly present to each veteran who served during the Vietnam War period.
Living United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin.
The symbolism attached to these lapel pins is significant. The Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin Fact Sheet explains each of the incorporated elements. (TAB E)
Certificate of Honor Program:
The Commemoration created a Certificate of Honor Program to recognize four distinct subcategories of Vietnam veterans and their families: (1) former, living American military POWs from the Vietnam War as listed by the Department of Defense; (2) immediate family members of American military personnel listed as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War by the Department of Defense; (3) immediate family members of a veteran who is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington,, D.C.; and (4) surviving spouses (at the time of death) of veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
The Certificate of Honor Fact Sheet provides program details and explains how Commemorative Partners can secure certificates and accompanying lapel pins for presentation to eligible recipients. (TAB F)
Vietnam Veteran Oral Histories:
The Commemoration is collecting oral history interviews on video of Vietnam veterans and their families. As we interview Vietnam veterans, we are able to leverage their vast network of fellow veterans to interview and capture a wide breadth of experiences – all Services, ranks, specialties and viewpoints – that reflect personal thoughts and opinions about all aspects of the war. Eventually, this collection of interviews will be shared, unedited, with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. In the future, we plan to make these interviews available on the Commemoration website.
Pentagon Vietnam War Exhibit (3rd Floor, A-Ring, corridors 3-2):
In collaboration with the OSD Historical Office, OSD Graphics and the Services’ History Offices, the Commemoration developed and established a museum-quality exhibit in the Pentagon. The Society for History in the Federal Government recognized this exhibit with its 2017 John Wesley Powell Prize for outstanding achievement in the field of historic exhibits and interpretive products.
The Vietnam War Exhibit showcases the following:
Timeline of significant events (September 1945-April 1975).
Thematic representation of service member duties and military operations.
Test panel from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, along with samples of the 400 thousand items left at “The Wall” throughout the past 3 decades by 4 million annual visitors.
Crew cabs of two Huey Helicopters representing a MEDEVAC and “Slick.”
Interactive map of the Republic of Vietnam.
Searchable video index of Medal of Honor recipients of the Vietnam War.
Large four-panel video screen depicting the “daily life” of service members.
“TV ‘68” monitor depicting videos, news broadcasts, commercials that were seen by the home front in 1968.
This exhibit can be toured by the public as part of the larger Pentagon Tours program. For reservations, please visit https://pentagontours.osd.mil/Tours/.
Mr. Michael L. Rhodes , Director of Administration in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer is the Executive Agent for The United States of America Vietnam War C ommemoration.
James (Jim) T. Jackson is the director of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, and as such leads day-to-day operations. (TAB G)
From President Donald Trump’s 2017 Presidential Proclamation:
"To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country's history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Throughout this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, and every March 29 thereafter, we will honor all those who answered our Nation's call to duty. We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform of our Armed Forces. With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans."
“And one of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam -- most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there. You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that's why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Michael Brazelton’s (four-time Silver Star recipient and former Vietnam War POW) reflections at the July 8, 2015 Congressional Ceremony on the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin:
“I have had a number of medals pinned on me in my day and this is certainly the highest ranking and the most honors I have received for any pinning ceremony. Even though it might just be a lapel pin to a lot of people, this is like a medal to the Vietnam veterans.”
“… these exhibits have also sought to ensure we continue to remember the lessons our military has learned along the way - many hard-won, some difficult to swallow … And of course, our fine and faithful tour guides will help walk - literally and figuratively - some 100,000 visitors through it each year … And they'll be reminded of the lessons we learned along the way … lessons on how our country must treat our warriors and our veterans, and the shame of how returning Vietnam veterans were treated - lessons that should continue, must continue to guide us in our work.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Clarence R. “Dick” Anderegg’s (Vietnam veteran; retired Director of Air Force History and Museums Policies and Programs, Headquarters Air Force; and Vietnam War Commemoration Federal Advisory Committee member) observations during a March 2017 tour of the exhibit:
"As Air Force Historian, I spent many years seeing historical displays around the world. This is simply the best I've ever seen."