The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 110-181 § 598) empowers the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program on behalf of the nation that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. This law also authorizes the Secretary to coordinate, support and facilitate federal, state and local government commemorative programs and activities. To that end, “The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration” was formed.
By presidential proclamation on May 25, 2012, the Commemoration extends from Memorial Day 2012 through Veterans Day 2025. Congress articulated five objectives for this Commemoration:
- To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.
- To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces.
- To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.
- To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.
- To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the period of the Vietnam War; approximately 7 million are living today. To reach these large numbers, the Commemoration has enlisted the assistance of many thousands of Commemorative Partner organizations at the local, state and national levels to conduct hometown- centric events and activities that thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in their local communities. For more information, please visit: http://www.vietnamwar50th.com.