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A place to reflect: Vietnam veterans honored in memorial rededication ceremony

By Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera | Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune | June 05, 2014

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A rededication ceremony was held to commemorate the addition of a gazebo to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The new gazebo is inscribed with the unofficial lyrics of taps. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

A rededication ceremony was held to commemorate the addition of a gazebo to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The new gazebo is inscribed with the unofficial lyrics of taps. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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The glass walls at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., lists the names of the 58,229 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. A rededication ceremony was held to commemorate the addition of a gazebo to the memorial, May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

The glass walls at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., lists the names of the 58,229 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. A rededication ceremony was held to commemorate the addition of a gazebo to the memorial, May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Michael North, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran, reads the names on the glass walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial after a rededications ceremony held for the memorial, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. North attended the event to reflect on his experiences and to represent his two brothers, who also served but were unable to attend. “We have always followed the flag,” said North, of his family. “We all feel very deeply about this.” The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Michael North, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran, reads the names on the glass walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial after a rededications ceremony held for the memorial, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. North attended the event to reflect on his experiences and to represent his two brothers, who also served but were unable to attend. “We have always followed the flag,” said North, of his family. “We all feel very deeply about this.” The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Marines salute during the wreath laying portion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The wreaths are in memory of Vietnam veterans and the appreciation of a grateful nation. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Marines salute during the wreath laying portion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The wreaths are in memory of Vietnam veterans and the appreciation of a grateful nation. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Ray Smith, a retired major general who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and participated in combat operations at Ue, Khe Sahn, the Rockpile, Con Thien and Dodge City south of Danang, speaks during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony  at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Ray Smith, a retired major general who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and participated in combat operations at Ue, Khe Sahn, the Rockpile, Con Thien and Dodge City south of Danang, speaks during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Marines stand alongside wreaths, in memory of Vietnam veterans and the appreciation of a grateful nation, during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Marines stand alongside wreaths, in memory of Vietnam veterans and the appreciation of a grateful nation, during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Guests at the rededication ceremony of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stand near fountains, each jet representing the different branches of the military, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Guests at the rededication ceremony of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stand near fountains, each jet representing the different branches of the military, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Larry Fitzpatrick, a former Onslow County Commissioner and retired Marine, stands and waves during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, May 31. Fitzpatrick was one of three who initiated the creation of the memorial. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Larry Fitzpatrick, a former Onslow County Commissioner and retired Marine, stands and waves during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony, at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, May 31. Fitzpatrick was one of three who initiated the creation of the memorial. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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Ray Smith, a retired major general who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and participated in combat operations at Ue, Khe Sahn, the Rockpile, Con Thien and Dodge City south of Danang, speaks during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony  at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released)

Ray Smith, a retired major general who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and participated in combat operations at Ue, Khe Sahn, the Rockpile, Con Thien and Dodge City south of Danang, speaks during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rededication ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31. The ceremony honored the memory of those who perished during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera)


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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- Members of the area community, including veterans, active duty service members and county residents, gathered to commemorate the rededication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial during a ceremony at Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, N.C., May 31.

The ceremony celebrated the addition of a gazebo above a fountain in the memorial, which features glass walls inscribed with the names of the 58,229 men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

Throughout the event, speakers honored the memories of those on the wall and praised Vietnam-era veterans who returned to build their lives in the wake of a conflict that divided the nation.

“The glass panels are a poignant reminder of the tremendous sacrifice of the Vietnam generation,” said Col. Timothy Salmon, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station New River. “(At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) we can reflect on the past and contemplate the future.”

Salmon, who credits his path as a Marine to a Vietnam veteran, said the veterans showcased true patriotism with their faithful devotion through what was considered an unpopular war.

The gazebo is etched with the unofficial lyrics of taps and sits at the center of the glass walls, covering a pool with five fountains representing the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

“(The memorial’s) completion marks our tribute to those who were killed and causes us to remember all who were part of the Vietnam experience,” said Sammy Phillips, Jacksonville city mayor.

Phillips said he hopes the community’s involvement in supporting the monument helps those who suffered mistreatment after the war to heal. The memorial is a testament of the community’s commitment to veterans, he added.

Vietnam-era veterans fought past an undeserved negative reputation, thrived in society and ensured future generations of service members were honored for their sacrifices, said Ray Smith, a retired Marine major general and the ceremony guest speaker.

“Our generation has done better in business, government, politics and philanthropy than any other group in our nation’s history,” said Smith, who served during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and participated in combat operation in Khe Sahn, the Rockpile, Con Thien and Dodge City south of Danang. “Vietnam veterans have an absolute right to not only be proud of their service, but to be even more proud of their service since Vietnam.”

The memorial provides veterans with a place in the community to remember and honor their experiences, said Emmett Salas, a retired Marine sergeant major and a guest at the ceremony.

“I’m proud to see the people who went through what I went through stand taller,” said Salas.

Salas said he was honored by the community’s response, and hoped other veterans would make their way to the memorial to reflect.

“Come, sit and enjoy it,” said Salas. “Pray and remember.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is neighbored by the Beirut Memorial, 9/11 World Trade Center beam, Camp Johnson and the N.C. Veterans Cemetery. Lejeune Memorial Gardens is located at Lejeune Boulevard and Montford Landing Road in Jacksonville, N.C.

For more information about the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, visit onslowvietnammemorial.org.

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