Along with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, members of Congress, military leaders and other Gold Star families, we gathered for the Ceremonial Groundbreaking of The Education Center at The Wall, a future national landmark that will bring to life the stories of the more than 58,261 Americans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
Located on the National Mall, the Education Center will uniquely bridge past, present and future by connecting veterans from all eras to one another. In addition to Vietnam veterans, the Education Center will also serve as a memorial to the lives of service members lost in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While Dr. McClung spoke about his daughter – a remarkable young woman by any account – he also gave a moving tribute to all those who serve, and said everyone should learn the story behind a name on The Wall. “If you don’t know a name in The Wall, find out about that man or woman, and tell their story again,” Dr. McClung said.
As Second Lady, as a military mom, and as a teacher, I could not agree more. There are many Americans who don’t know anyone in the military. Strengthening the understanding between civilians and our military is one of the reasons the First Lady and started Joining Forces – so that all Americans would understand the need to find ways to honor and support our troops, veterans, and military families.
And that is also why the Education Center is so important: it will help ensure that our veterans will always be remembered – not just in name, but by their actions – telling their stories again so that future generations may learn and be inspired by their service for years to come.