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WASHINGTON - Some crying, others trying to be steadfast and strong, wives and sons told a small crowd one thing: A name.

It was a name of a loved one - someone from their family or perhaps a best friend - who had fought in Vietnam but died years after the conflict ended. Families from around the country gathered on Friday, June 14, to participate in the fifteenth annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund program In Memory.

The program coincided with Flag Day, a point noted by Jan Scruggs, the president and founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. In opening remarks, he also expounded on the sense of healing that comes with participating in the program In Memory.

"This is a very healing place. This is The Wall that heals. And this is a special time for each and everyone one of you, because I know the pain that inevitably comes with losing a family member," Scruggs said.

According to the VVMF website, the day is an opportunity to remember veterans who are ineligible for inclusion on The Wall, but they still suffered from medical issues caused by their service. These issues ranged from veterans who had been exposed to defoliant spray or suffered from PTSD.

"This morning we come together to honor our fallen comrades...Our Vietnam veterans, while history may record certain controversies associated with the dispute, let no one dispute the honor and dignity of those that served there," Capt. Denis Faherty, US Navy Ret., said.

There were 121 individuals inducted into the In Memory honor roll during the ceremony. The In Memory plaque rests by near the Three Soldiers statue.

"Each day in this country, the obituary pages contain the names of Vietnam veterans who have died as a result of their service in Vietnam. Whether the cause if Agent Orange, related cancer, a suicide, or liver failure as a result of Hepatitis C, it is clear the Vietnam War continues to claim lives," Nancy Switzer said.

Switzer, the president of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, continued to say that these veterans deserve the same recognition as the names of veterans on The Wall.

Held on a beautiful day under mild sunny skies, the event also drew the attention of tourists, many of whom stopped to observe the ceremony while visiting the National Mall and monuments.

tibbetts.meredith@stripes.com

Twitter: mjtibbs

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