Vietnam Vet’s Remembrance Ceremony this weekend


May 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A ceremony honoring veterans of the Vietnam War will be held 10-a.m. Saturday in Des Moines. The event takes place at the Vietnam Memorial on the south side of the State Capital. The keynote address will be given by Vietnam Veteran, and former Army Nurse, Mary Ellen White. Dan Gannon, a platoon leader who was with the Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1969-to 1970 and was wounded in combat, says women who served in Vietnam were not given the recognition they deserved until 1993, when a memorial was erected in their honor near the Memorial Wall in Washington, D-C.

Gannon who’s a member of the Iowa Commission on Veteran’s Affairs, says more than 256,000 women served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force during the war years. Among them, 11,000, mostly nurses and medical specialists, served in-country and in or near combat zones. Eight nurses were killed in action during the war.

The event being held Saturday is the third in Iowa since a resolution was passed by the legislature in 2008, marking May 7th as the official Iowa Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day. Gannon says it serves as a precursor to an even bigger event scheduled to take place in September.

The Dignity Memorial provider network created the replica in 1990. Its black, reflective surface is inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died or are missing in Vietnam. The Wall arrive at Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino, and be escorted to the RestHaven Cemetery at 19th and Ashworth in Des Moines, where it will be open for public viewing, beginning September 16th.

The Patriot and American Legion riders will be a part of the escort. Gannon says over 10,000 people are expected to visit the wall. Paper and pencils will be provided so visitors can make rubbings of names etched on the wall. Additional information will be made available to visitors at Saturday’s ceremony in Des Moines. Limited parking is available near the memorial. Additional parking is available to the east of the memorial, and near the Lucas Building.

The Iowa Vietnam Veteran’s Wall contains the names of 853 Iowans who died during the war, include four from Cass County.