Remarksat the Memorial Day Commemoration

National Cemetery of the Pacific(Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii

May 27, 2012

By LieutenantColonel Julian Tran, U.S.Army


Distinguishguests; veterans of the Vietnam War; Soldiers; Sailors, Marines; Airmen; CoastGuard; and my fellow Americans.

Ladies andGentlemen:

It is a greathonor for me to be here today to express my deepest gratitude to the warriorswho had fought for the freedom of South Vietnam.

First of all,I would like to thank the organizer of this event, particularly, Mrs. Nina andRetired Colonel Castagnetti who give me theopportunity to stand in front of you this afternoon.

Ladies andGentlemen,

As a soldier,I strongly believe that “once a Soldier, you will always be aSoldier”; therefore, to me, you are not a veteran, but you are, andalways will be, a Soldier until the day you die.  And I, if given theopportunity, would not hesitate to go to battle with you, side-by-side, anyday, anywhere, and anytime.  Like you,I’ve deployed and fought in the faraway lands to preserve our way of lifeand the freedom that we, Americans, all enjoy every day.

The differentbetween your generation and my generation is that, at least my generation, to acertain extent, has received some appreciations from the people that we metonce we returned home from war.  I am the lucky one; many of today’s servicemen and women are the luckyones.  But for the Soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War –And many of you are here today – they returning home to face thehostility and rejection from a society that has forgotten the value of freedomand what it meant to be an American.  Despite under appreciated andbias media propaganda, you had fought well and had never lost a single battlewhen you were there, from the La Rang Valley, , Hamburger Hill, and ,just to name a few.

You and I, weare Soldiers, and as Soldier we followed orders and executed our missionsregardless of the circumstances.  We gave 110% – and many gave it all- and are lying here today in this holy ground.

As for me, America hasgiven me the opportunity, not only to live free again, but also to serve thegreatest Armed Forces on this planet earth, and to defend our freedom and wayof life.  And I consider this is the greatest honor of my lifetime.  Yes,Americais not a perfect country, but I can attest to you that, after having been tomore than 35 countries, this country is still the best country on thisplanet.  Those who complain about America; say bad things aboutAmerica; if you can find a better place on earth to live, please let me know, Iwill buy you a one-way ticket, destination of your choice, and don’tyou ever come back.  Because I am so proud to be an American and Isure don’t want to live with you.

Though I wasa little boy during the Vietnam War, but I had a great sense of appreciation ofthe Freedom that we enjoyed in South Vietnam.  My brother and twouncles who were officers in the South Vietnamese Army – or ARVN, foughtand died to preserve our freedom as well.  The Freedom that SouthVietnamese people enjoyed until 1975 couldn’t have taken place withoutthe sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of ARVN soldiers who fought alongsidethe American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guards which who theyare now called Vietnam War Veterans.

Additionally,my sincere appreciation also goes to families of more than 58,000 names ofthose warriors are now on the VIETNAM WALL in Washington D.C. WITHOUT YOU, theVietnam Veterans, WE, the people of South Vietnam couldn’t have enjoyed aperiod of prosperity and appreciated the value of FREEDOM.  Thoughthe period of “Freedom” was short live, we had learned and realizedwhat it meant to be free.  And for that, I want to say THANK YOU fromthe bottom of my heart for giving us those days of freedom.

Afterthe Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people escaped from Vietnam; untoldnumber of them died at seas or in the jungles of Laos and Cambodia on their journey ofseeking freedom.   Those people, as you have known them as“boat people” or, as for me, the “land people” becauseI escaped from Vietnamthru Cambodia.  Thoserefugees had chosen to “live free or die” because you have giventhem the TASTE of FREEDOM.

GeneralDouglas MacArthur said “old Soldiers never die; they just fadeaway.” For the Veterans of the VIETNAM WAR, I want to say that “youmay die of old age, but you will never fade away” because in the heartand mind of millions of Vietnamese people and communities around the world, youwill live on forever.  Whenever I see a Vietnam War Veteran, Ialways say Thank you to him, and I would ask everyone to do the same because hehad given so much and had done so much for South Vietnam and for America.

I also wouldask every American to say a word of THANK YOU to every Soldier past andpresent; because without them, Americawill not be where we are today; American will not have the freedom that we havetoday; and Americawill not be the greatest country on this planet earth.  To all theveterans and Soldiers here today, I salute you.



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