Washington — Vietnam memorial now a national monument
Vietnam veterans received a somber Veteran's Day tribute Sunday from President Reagan when they formally turned the Vietnam Veterans Memorial over to the Department of the Interior.
Addressing a gathering of several thousand people, including veterans in battle fatigues, Reagan said, Thank you ''for being patient with your countrymen ,'' who, now nearly a decade after the Vietnam war, have finally welcomed the veterans home.
''Some of your countrymen were unable to distinguish between their native dislike for war and the stainless patrioism of those who suffered its scars. But there has been a rethinking there too. Now we can say to you, and say as a nation, thank you for your courage.''
During his address, a small band of veterans chanted ''Bring them home now,'' refering to the nearly 2,500 servicemen still missing in action that many believe may still be alive in Vietnam. Reagan, acknowledging the concern, said, ''We must in unity work to account for those still missing.''
Paid for by veterans with more than $7 million in private donations, the memorial was completed Friday with the unveiling of a seven-foot bronze statue entitled ''Three Servicemen.
The three soldiers - a Caucasian, a black, and a Hispanic - face the 500-foot long black granite wall inscribed with the names of 58,022 Americans killed during the Vietnam war.