The American Legion joined about three dozen members of Congress and others Thursday morning cleaning the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
The event was a prelude to various commemorations, remembrance services and tributes as the nation pauses to remember fallen heroes this Memorial Day Weekend.
American Legion Executive Director of Government Affairs Chanin Nuntavong was among those participating.
"Honoring and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice is a core value of The American Legion and all of our members," said Nuntavong, a Marine Corps veteran. "I was humbled to represent The American Legion and lend a hand in today's effort, as a way to honor those whose names are etched on the Vietnam Wall."
Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., is an Army veteran who opened the brief ceremony.
“This gets our minds right as members of Congress and reminds us of why we are here,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are all Americans. And those brothers and sisters who have fallen are a stark reminder, a good reminder, of why we wake up every morning and do what we do.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., received the Purple Heart for his service during the Vietnam War where he served with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. He noted the 58,000 names on the Wall, representing people who he served with.
“I think it’s important to remember them and to thank them,” he said. “And to remember that this represents 58,000 parents who weren’t as fortunate as our parents were.”
Rep. Jim Baird, R-Ind., is an Army Vietnam veteran who received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
“I’m very proud of the people on the Wall back there,” he said. “I think Americans need to know what it takes to preserve our freedom and to preserve the things we hold dear. Today, we’re here, honoring those who served in Vietnam. I know there are others here today who served in other battles and we appreciate that. It’s a pleasure to be here and an honor.”