VA Central California partnered with the Clovis Veterans Memorial District to hold a special ceremony for Vietnam War Veterans on Friday, March 29, at the Walk of Honor Memorial Garden, at the main VA hospital, in Fresno.
The Fresno event was part of National Vietnam Veterans Day, held on March 29 every year to commemorate the departure date of U.S. military personnel from Vietnam in 1975.
The event included remarks from Congressman Jim Costa and Acting Medical Center Director Chuck Benninger, as well as a traditional wreath laying ceremony. Valerie Salcedo, Miss Fresno County 2011, sang the National Anthem.
William Rice, Clovis Veterans Memorial District Director, also spoke at the event. Rice said he wants the event to serve as a reminder of the cost of war.
“If you can’t remember the past, you’re doomed to repeat the future,” Rice said. “If you get people to realize the cost of what has happened, then they are more aware of what we have to do in order not to repeat the same thing over again.”
Rice said organizers spent a lot of time putting together the event, looking for somebody to volunteer a location, getting the word out and contacting veterans organizations.
CVMD CEO Lorenzo Rios said it was an honor to attend the event among local heroes who set the standard for future veterans.
“Vietnam veterans made sure that we always welcomed our heroes home, that they would never have another time where our heroes would come back and not be appreciated for the sacrifices they made,” Rios said.
With the CVMD partnering with the VA Regional Medical Center to put together the event, Rios said the goal was to facilitate a union of veterans from the Central Valley to come together.
“Our desire is to always remember the sacrifices of our heroes and bring our communities together to celebrate how great our Central Valley really is and how great our nation is because of the heroes like the one we have in the Valley,” Rios said.
Moving forward, Rios said the VA Medical Center and the CVMD will strengthen its partnership by continuing to honor veterans.
“The way we strengthen our partnership is by celebrating our shared interests, that is honoring our veterans and serving our community and doing this by leveraging our community stakeholders and collaborating together,” Rios said. “We’re not concerned who gets the credit. We’re concerned about getting things done.”