Where Every Day Is Veterans Day: 19 New Names Commemorated With AM-Bush
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Virginia Sen. John Warner led thousands of people at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Saturday in a solemn tribute to the 58,175 Americans whose names are inscribed on its black granite and a spontaneous celebration of another wall crumbling in Berlin.
″This memorial is one of incalculable majesty and mystique,″ said Warner in a Veterans Day ceremony marking the recent addition of 19 names to the dark mirror of America’s Vietnam toll. ″It conveys the message that victory is ours - not the traditional military victory, but a nation approaching victory with itself ... a nation healing.″
The gathering of more than 6,500 people, including families of those whose names were newly inscribed, greeted with a booming cheer Warner’s observation that: ″There is another wall. And that wall, as we speak, is crumbling down. It falls because its foundation of communist suppression is being exposed to truth and to democracy.″
But Warner cautioned that despite the dramatic openings between East and West, ″We cannot let our euphoria erode our will to provide America with the defense that we need.
″We must remind ourselves that (Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev has not become a pacifist,″ he said. ″The Soviet Union still maintains the largest army in the world, and its navy continues to grow. ... It remains a potent military threat to the security of the United States.″
The ceremony, beneath sparkling sunshine, was moderated by Jan C. Scruggs, the Vietnam war veteran who led the long and difficult fight to build the memorial, since visited by millions of Americans who daily leave wreaths, love letters, ribbons and medals, countless flags and other remembrances on the sidewalk beneath the names.
″In one way or another, we are all related to the names on tat wall,″ said Vietnam veteran Ronald F. Gibbs.
Maria Eldredge, of Mills, Wyo., read aloud the names of the 19 men whose deaths were overlooked in years past or who have since died of wounds or disease incurred in Vietnam. Among them was her brother, Army Spec. 4 Jose Leopoldo Lujan, of Natrons, Wyo., who recently died at a Veterans Administration hospital.
The others: Army Pfc. Robert Bruce Annas, Granite Falls, N.C.; Marine Capt. John Frederick Anthony, Port Huron, Mich.; Air Force Maj. Michael J. Bosiljevac, Omaha, Neb.; Army Spec. 4 Robert Dennis Brown, Troy, Ohio; Army Pfc. Robert C. Cothran, Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.; Navy Lt. Tom Joseph Cress, Milwaukee; Marine Pfc. Charles C. Curtis Jr., Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Also: Navy Fireman Billy D. Hooper, Blue Earth, Minn.; Army Spec.4 Freddy Paul Heugel, Dearborn Heights, Mich.; Army Pfc. Philip V. MacKinney, Springfield, Greene, Mo.; Navy Seaman Richard D. Mattson, Fraser, Mich.; Army Spec. 4 Paul Francis Newman Jr., Pinehurst, Mass.; Army Pfc. John Nishimura, Morgan Hill, Calif.; Army Spec. 4 David James Pugliesi, Quincy, Mass.; Army Capt. William C. Strevel Jr., Atlanta; Marine Lance Cpl. Melvin E. Taylor, Paterson, N.J.; Navy Seaman Paul Isaac Vegas, Redondo Beach, Calif., and Army Pvt. 1 Wilbert Walton, Fayetteville, N.C.
After a bugler from the Army’s 82nd Airborne played taps, hundreds of people surged to the wall to find, touch, and trace the names most special to them. It was a common scene at the wall; there, every day is Veterans Day.