Observing the 50Th Anniversary of the Vietnam Warby Senator Susan M. Collins
Posted on 2015-09-22
COLLINS. Mr. President, on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam
war, we reflect with reverence upon a generation that served with
honor, distinction, and selflessness. We pay tribute to the 9 million
men and women who wore our Nation's uniform during the Vietnam era,
answered our Nation's call to service, and advanced the sacred ideals
of liberty and self-determination.
All gave some, and some gave all. Currently, the names of the more than 58,000 patriots who gave their all are forever etched in black granite on the Vietnam Memorial in our Nation's Capital. The names of the nearly 1,800 Americans who remain unaccounted for are forever etched in our hearts.
Nearly 350 patriots from Maine are listed among the killed or missing. Among those names is U.S. Army SGT Donald Skidgel, a Medal of Honor recipient, born in my hometown of Caribou, ME, who served in Vietnam and who gave his life saving the lives of others. On September 14 of this year, Navy pilot LT Neil Taylor was finally laid to rest in his hometown of Rangeley, ME, 50 years to the day after his aircraft was shot down on his 68th mission and he was reported missing. They were patriots in the best American tradition. We will never forget them.
May the families of those who fell and of those unaccounted for find peace in knowing that the American people share their loss and grief. We will always be grateful for the valor and sacrifice of their loved ones. And we will never forget them.
From the founding of our Nation to today, the freedom we hold sacred has been earned by our fellow citizens. Our Nation's history has been written by the men and women who serve, despite the sacrifices, with courage and devotion. The men and women of the Vietnam era carried on that tradition.
[[Page S6891]] They carry on another tradition that echoes throughout our history: After their military service was done, they returned home, quietly and modestly, and continued to serve their communities.
The American people believe that supporting our troops doesn't stop once they leave the military. Just as no member of our Armed Forces would leave a comrade behind on the battlefield, we must not leave our veterans and their families behind on the battlefields of injury and disease. We must be strong advocates for veterans' health care and be concerned about the Vietnam veterans who were exposed to agent orange. We must remain committed to ensuring that those veterans and their families receive the care and support they have earned.
The men and women who served our Nation a half century ago upheld the highest ideals of America and of the American Armed Forces. Our Vietnam veterans were then, and remain today, heroes who deserve our respect and our gratitude.