The 31st annual Memorial Day Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wreath-Laying Ceremony was held Monday at Junction City’s Heritage Park.
The event was conducted by the Grand Commandery of the Knights Templar of Kansas and hosted by the Junction City Commandery No. 43 Knights Templar. Sir Knight T. Michael Fegan welcomed those in attendance to the event, which was open to the public. Junction City Vice Mayor Jeff Underhill was then introduced to the crowd, and spoke briefly about the importance of recognizing special Memorial Day moments.
Sir Knight Chuck E. Arens then spoke about the significance of the ceremony, and Memorial Day as a whole. He said he was humbled when asked for a return speaking engagement at the ceremony. He recalled a quote from a previous ceremony regarding those who served their country in the military.
“All gave some, some gave all,” Arens said.
Arens said the Vietnam War was not a conflict; it was a war. He said a conflict occurs when two brothers are fighting over the bigger piece of cake, but the Vietnam War was nothing of that nature.
Arens asked those in the audience to remember the three Rs: Remembrance, Respect and Reverence. Regarding remembrance, Arens wants all to remember those who perished and stood for America and its flag. For respect, he asked visitors to respect those who sacrificed their lives for their nation’s freedom. And reverence is for those whose names are not on the monument, and what that means to the people of Kansas.
Arens listed some statistics from the Vietnam War, and talked about the hardships that those who served faced when in combat. He said there were more than 10,000 women that served in Vietnam, a lot of those being nurses in hospitals. He also said that at least 25,000 people who were killed were age 20 or younger. He said 75,000 left Vietnam severely disabled, and 1,800 men are still unaccounted for.
All those reasons, and many more, are why Memorial Day is a monumental day on the calendar, Arens said.