A Son’s Reflection at ‘The Wall’

A Son’s Reflection at ‘The Wall’

Father’s Day 2010: Former US Army Chief of Staff and Gold Star son, Gen. George W. Casey delivers the keynote address. Gen. Casey’s father, Maj. Gen. George W. Casey Sr., was killed in Vietnam on July 7, 1970.

By General George W. Casey, Jr. The first time I saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it took my breath away as  I struggled with the scope of the loss that it represented for our family and  for our Country. My father’s name is on The Wall, on the 126th line of panel 9-W. He was  commanding the 1st Cavalry Division when his UH-1 “Huey” helicopter crashed near  Bao Loc on a mission to the hospital at Cam Ranh Bay to thank servicemen under  his command that were injured during the Division’s successful operations into  Cambodia.

For me, and for the family members and friends of the 58,282 men and women  whose names appear on The Wall each visit is an especially profound experience.  But the Memorial isn’t for us alone. It’s been a place of remembrance and  healing for all Americans. Nearly half of all Americans today were born after the fall of Saigon in 1975. For them it is difficult to appreciate the divisions the war created in  this country. Far from being honored like today’s veterans, the men and women of our Armed  Forces were reviled in some quarters.

There weren’t any welcoming parades for  the thousands of returning American servicemen and women who did their duty in  Vietnam. Their sacrifices, and those of their families, were neither recognized  nor widely appreciated. The Wall changed that. Maya Lin’s simple and dramatic design, the  ever-present veterans who stand by just to talk, and the lifelike bronze  statutes have all helped to forever transform the way Americans view those who  served in Southeast Asia.

The veterans who’ve served ever since have been the beneficiaries of that  change. Every time the words “Thank you for your service!” are uttered, their  origins are found at The Wall. Now, three decades after The Wall was dedicated, the Vietnam Veterans  Memorial Fund, the same volunteers who conceived it and raised the money for it,  plan to break ground later this year for an Education Center on an adjacent plot  of land.

The Education Center will complement the emotional power of The Wall with a  state-of-the-art interactive learning experience honoring not just those who  served in Vietnam but all American veterans. Besides a long-overdue exhibit of the many personal remembrances that have  been left at The Wall by friends and family members, a multi-media “Wall of  Heroes” will memorialize and personalize the 58,282 men and women who made the  ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Like The Wall itself, the Education Center is wholly a grassroots initiative – conceived and organized by veterans to honor the memories of their fallen  brothers and sisters.

Construction of this important tribute to America’s veterans depends on the  generosity of each of us. While survivors like me have a special responsibility,  every American citizen owes a great deal to those who’ve served. When a war is forgotten, so too, unfortunately, are the sacrifices of those  who fought it; and no nation can afford to forget the sacrifices of the brave  men and women of their Armed Forces–and the families who support them–who fight  to preserve the freedoms that it holds dear. This Fathers’ Day, please, join me, Sons and Daughters In Touch, and the  countless others who lost a loved one in Vietnam by supporting the Education Center at The Wall, so that we can learn from our past – and so that future  generations will never forget.

You can donate by visiting www.BuildTheCenter.Org or www.sdit.org.


General George W. Casey, Jr. is a retired United States  Army General who last served as the 36th Chief of Staff of the United States  Army from April 10, 2007 to April 11, 2011 and as Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq from June 2004 to February 2007.

Sons and Daughters In Touch is a non-profit organization  that provides support to the family members of those who died or remain missing  from the Vietnam War.  This Fathers’ Day they will renew their commitment to raise at least $1.00 from every surviving family member of the men and women  whose names are on the Wall to support the construction of the Education Center  at The Wall.

Read more: http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2012/06/a-sons-reflections-at-the-wall/#ixzz1xz70Ncn1 MilitaryAdvantage.Military.com Through the “$1.00 for Every Name on the Wall” campaign, SDIT is actively working to raise funds for the establishment of the Education Center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Your donation will help SDIT move closer to its goal of $58,282. 

Join us today in honor of our fathers and those who served with them.