Remembering the POWs of the Vietnam War

Nixon library hosts a reunion dinner for all living former POWs of Vietnam War.
4:49 | 05/28/13

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Transcript for Remembering the POWs of the Vietnam War
And finally tonight, as we look back at this memorial day day weekend together, I want to tell you about something that happened that will probably never happen again. 40 years ago, the vietnam war was ended by president nixon and hundreds of prisoners of war came home, after years of brutal captivity. So the nixon library decided over the weekend to invite the former prisoners, still living, to recreate a dinner held at the white house long ago. And tonight, in america strong, SOME OF THOSE P.O.W.s SIT DOWN With us to remind a new generation what courage and country really mean. They were the ace pilots shot out of the sky, taken prisoner and tortured by the vietnamese. Shoulders pulled out of sockets, burned with electric wires and not for weeks, but years. There for 1,955 days. 2,103 days in a prison camp. 1,900 days in prison. 40 years later, they recognize the squeaky gate fro that prison hell. They're coming for somebody, and it ain't good. They beat my good friend to death over the first month on his wounds. Captain gruder says as he listened to the screaming, he knew his only choice was to ask god to teach him how to forgive. I got on my knees and after three months of real heavy prayer, hours a day, I could finally form in my mind, the words, lord, forgive them. I was praying for them. Through their prison walls, they tapped letters to each other, for god bless you. And came away with lessons about what courage really is. What is it? Courage is fear that has said its prayers. None of us was as strong as we wanted to be, or we thought we would be. Courage is not always the end of the fight. Courage is a process. When they returned to america, in 1973, they were so thin, the u.S. Sent tailors to remake their uniforms before they appeared in public. I bounded up the stairs and stopped at the top. And blow them a kiss. THAT'S john McCain, and right behind him, colonel ellisings, who said they got on the plane. He was handed a big cigar and hugged a nurse. We had not seen a woman in five and a half years. And captain gruder soared in a dance of joy at the sight of his little brother all grown up. The son of a gun is stronger than I am. I can't believe it. This kid they beat up all my life is now strong. I can't believe it! ♪ and then there they were on the lawn of the white house for dinner with the president. And then last friday, 187 of them, nearly a third of the original group, gathered against at the nixon library, remembering when brotherhood was everythingin the distant memory that is vietnam. What is it you most want to say to each other? A lot of people only have five or six friends that they can really count on in a tough situation, but we had 300 friends, that we knew would take, not just death for each other, but torture for each other. Torture is much harder to take than death. And we had 300 friends like In prison, they wrote down songs about america on toilet paper. They hid it from the vietnamese. And 40 years ago, they found one of them, written in prison. It's called the p.O.W. Prayer, about honor and freedom -- and home. ♪ Oh god to thee we lift our prayer and sing ♪ ♪ oh god to thee we raise our prayer and sing ♪ from within these foreign prison walls ♪ ♪ at the hands of our enemies ♪

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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