As commander in chief, President Obama says he has no more solemn responsibility than acknowledging the loss of Americans in combat. His Memorial Day began with a private breakfast here at the White House with “Gold Star” families who have lost loved ones. After the traditional wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama attends a special remembrance at the Vietnam Memorial – marking 50 years since the start of that conflict.
President Obama is the first president for whom Vietnam is history, not memory. He is speaking at the iconic Vietnam Memorial wall, black granite etched with the names of more than 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict.
In an opinion column published today in the military’s Stars and Stripes, the President reminds that it was in January 50 years ago the first U.S. Army helicopters helped to ferry South Vietnamese troops out into the jungle near Saigon, ushering the U.S. into long years of combat in Southeast Asia. The President declares in Stars and Stripes that the U.S. will never stop searching for the 1,666 Americans still missing.