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
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 Womens 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
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
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
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 didnt 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
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. Im glad your here