Remarks at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial
Storytelling, Memorial Day 2005
David Chung

In our past life, who would have ever thought most of us would make it this far. I think about the changes in the attitude towards women in the military, and how this statue continues to open hearts and minds of those who served in the Vietnam War. Not just the military nurses, but all the women who were technicians, women who were in supply, intelligence, administrative, logistics and other Army services. We also do not forget civilian women such as the Red Cross who helped with morale and family services.

This Memorial is about the rest of the story of what happened to them while they were there, when they came home, and how they dealt with their experiences. Their stories are finally being told.

It is now our turn to care for those who have followed in your footsteps and to be the caretakers, cheerleaders and mentors.

I realized that the idea of bringing this memorial across the country would be more than a celebration of women who served. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Whistle Stop Tour would take on a life of its own, and tears of joy and remembrance would provoke a healing unparalleled by any other memorial event.

To reflect on the tour is to remember the scenes of small miracles and triumphs of the human spirit as we traveled across the United States.

Scenes such as Junction City Kansas where tears could be seen streaming down the faces of those staring at the statue in the dim light and the pouring rain.
Or the woman veteran in Dallas Texas, who overcame her despair and cast away her ghosts and finally had the courage to tell her family who and what she was all about because of her experiences in Vietnam.

Even Mother Nature played a hand in some of these small miracles. We brought rain to San Antonio after a sixty-five day drought.

The tour turned into a traveling journey back home for all those who came out to see as well as those who participated. Veterans and families, young and old came to offer tribute to all the women who served and to those who cared for the soldiers when they returned home.
But much more than that, is the perpetual healing that started and continues today. You see, there are many who have made it back to the world and have yet to find a home for their souls.

We are still losing women who have served.

There are those who have not found their light at the end of the tunnel. And for those of us who did make it back, it is up to us to pledge to put that light at the end of the tunnel and help guide them back to the safe confines of home.

This also means the new generations of women who have served, and are now returning from THIS war!

If you ask any soldier who may have come back wounded, who was the last person they saw before coming home? Most likely their answer will be that of a caring nurse or a Red Cross worker. Women are the ones who helped us make it back home. You are the ones that gave us hope during times of despair. You are the ones that gave us physical and emotional comfort. Most of the time it was a thankless job with extremely long hours and horrible living conditions and yet, you endured only to come home to a country that didn’t want to welcome you back.

During the Vietnam War, you were forgotten. But not any more! This statue is only a symbol. But the statement is crystal clear! For what has been experienced by the least of us, affects all of us. We cannot allow what happened to the women who served our nation to let them ever lose sight of that light which guides them back to their heartfelt home.

For each tear that every single one of you shed, it is your badge of courage! And for everything you have experienced, is your right of passage! And that right must never, ever be denied or taken away!

I work at the Center for Minority Veterans at VA, and share the Office with the Center for Women Veterans. I have to tell you that they are a dedicated group and work very hard and have the passion to be that guiding light. I am proud to be associated with them. They do care. Much has been done to improve the lives of women veterans by this group, and they are one of many organizations that represents this guiding light as beacon of hope for all of you to follow, including those serving today!

Our service to all of you is paramount. Our love for you will never diminish. Just like this symbol of the three women caring for the wounded soldier, their love and caring expressions will remain crystal clear long after you and I depart from this life.

Welcome Home can be said many times. Doing something about it defines what this statement really means. All of you were individually challenged. The circumstances brought out the extra ordinary qualities that separate you from ordinary people. You became heroes in a war often described as one war that did not have heroes. You rose to the heights that many aspire to climb, but only a few ever experience the view! This is your story of courage and honor, and we thank you every day of our lives.

I am honored to be among all of you, and again I say, welcome home. I’m glad your here

David Chung