There are more than 58,000 names of fallen soldiers etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in our nation’s capitol. Left off the granite monument however are the names of countless veterans who died after coming home.
They died from Agent Orange poisoning years later. They died by their own hands after suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of them died without anyone noticing after being homeless for years.
For many Vietnam veterans, there’s something very wrong with that. There’s something wrong with the government’s attitude that the wounds those veterans suffered were not a result of combat and therefore do not deserve to be recognized, they say.
The personal project of Vietnam vet Bob “Joker” Lupo, chaplain for the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, the ceremony included a proclamation of Alaska’s In-Memory Day by Gov. Sean Parnell, two poems by Lupo and a keynote speech by Congressman Don Young.
“The ceremony is meant to assist friends and relatives with closure and to let them know that we honor, respect and shall forever remember the sacrifices of these fallen warriors,” Lupo wrote on the inside of the program handed out to about 40 fellow veterans, wives and friends.
Lupo was inspired to bring the ceremony to Alaska after stumbling on it while visiting Washington, D.C., four years ago.