WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald honored veterans Tuesday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
After a wreath-laying ceremony, Carter and McDonald attached Vietnam Veteran lapel pins on about two dozen veterans lined up along the memorial wall.
The event was part of an annual tribute to U.S. service members killed in the war, first observed in 2012 after President Barack Obama issued a proclamation officially listing March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day. The Vietnam War Commemoration is marking the 50th anniversary of the war with local and national events.
All veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. military at any time from Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, regardless of where they served, are eligible to receive the pins.
On the front, the pin features an eagle superimposed over a blue field and red and white stripes, along with six golden stars and laurel wreaths. Each element has symbolic significance: The eagle stands for courage, honor, dedication; the blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice; the laurel wreath represents victory, integrity and strength. The stripes represent the American flag and the stars represent Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States -- the six allied nations who fought alongside one another.
“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You” is embossed on the back of the pin.
Go to vietnamwar50th.com for details about the commemoration schedule and how event organizers can get the pins to pass out to veterans in attendance.