With the names of the dead etched in stone behind him, President Barack Obama on Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War by calling the treatment of the conflict’s veterans a “national shame, a disgrace” and pledging that future soldiers will return home to better treatment.
The war was “one of the most painful chapters or our history,” Obama said in a speech delivered to a crowd of vets and military families in front of the Vietnam War Memorial’s “Wall of Names” on the National Mall.
”You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated,” Obama said. “It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again. And so a central part of this 50th anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along.”