Remarks of Secretary Salazar
Memorial Day 2012
May 28, 2012
Thank you, Tom [Selleck]. Vietnam Veterans and families, Secretary Panetta and honorable dignitaries, welcome.
Jan Scruggs and General Barry McCaffrey, it’s a privilege and an honor to partner with you and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at this hallowed place of remembrance of our fallen heroes.
The National Park Service oversees nearly 400 of America’s beautiful landscapes and historical and cultural sites, including 85 national battlefields, military parks, and monuments to those who have defended our country.
The Vietnam Memorial is a living memorial. Each year, many of the millions of people who come here to honor their friends, their relatives, and even those they never met leave flowers, ribbons, medals, handwritten notes and prayers, and other remembrances at the base of this wall.
The remembrances are a reminder that the great price of our freedom is not simply etched on the black stone of this memorial; it is etched on the hearts of those who mourn and those who honor the soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, gave the “last full measure of devotion” to their country.
For me, I visit the Vietnam Memorial frequently and stop to pay tribute to those from my native San Luis Valley in Colorado whose names are etched on these walls. As I stand at Panel 41E, Row 21, in honor of Manuelito Leopold Herrera, I remember the day in 1968 when, at the age of 13, I attended his burial at a remote cemetery in Los Cerritos, Colorado. I will never forget him, or his ultimate sacrifice.
It is our honor at the Department of the Interior to be custodian of this special place.
May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.