Remarks of Diane Carlson Evans at the opening ceremony for the parade commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
November 10th, 2007, 11 AM, 7th St. and Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC | download
We've had an extraordinary journey together since Vietnam.

265,000 women served around the world during the Vietnam Era. Some of us went to Vietnam. All of us went when we were needed and where we were needed.

After Vietnam, we entered a minefield of challenges and were tested again. The wounds of Vietnam, national and private became another battle for us to face - men and women, out of uniform, linked forever.

Before the Wall of Names was placed on the National Mall in l982, for all of America [and the world] to see, we were the stuff of bad stories in newspaper articles; we were disrespected, ridiculed, analyzed, questioned, investigated, disparaged and accused. We had songs written for us and against us; movies portraying us as inhuman or subhuman. And we were all men.

Then, one day Americans watched as the Memorial was dedicated. Their eyes sawthousands of veterans marching or limping, proudly in a parade down Constitution Avenue; worn out combat boots, boonie hats, field jackets, jungle fatigues, crutches and canes, wheelchairs, amputations, disfigured limbs and bodies, red crosses, unit badges, medical caducei. They saw that we had children and families who loved us, we had hearts, we had tears, we had memories and stories of bravery, heroism, passion and purpose, we had strengths and vulnerabilities, we served with honor and pride, and some of us were even women. The viewers and listeners across America were reminded that thousands upon thousands had given their lives up to a country that wanted to forget - the war that seemed like a bad dream but it wouldn't go away. And they were reminded that thousands more had survived and were left with physical and emotional scars that yet needed attention -- and finally the nation opened their eyes and their hearts to try to understand and make amends. The verse speaks to us which says, "To everything there is a season, a time to hate and a time to love, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to keep silence and a time to speak.....there is time of war and a time of peace."

We marched together then and today with forgiveness, reconciliation and hope. In return, we ask for all future generations to see us as we were, and remember those men and women on the Wall and the thousands more who died after the war as a result of the war. They died too soon. Let's march for them and let's march for peace. For in the end, it's how much we want peace that will bring us peace. And it's how much we truly care about each other that will heal those scars and prevail over the tragedy of war.