Remarks of Sen. John McCain
Vietnam War Memorial
I’d like to, first of all, make note of the fact that I was not an enthusiastic supporter of the Vietnam Memorial. I was concerned about its design. I thought maybe it was a little gloomy. And like most members of Congress, I had a better idea.
One evening, I was here many years ago at sunset. And I saw two Vietnam veterans standing by the wall. Both of them, obviously, didn’t know each other; both of them, wearing parts of the uniform. And they were going over the names as we see them, and to make a long story short, in a few moments, they were embracing and crying.
It made it clear to me that this was a wonderful place of reconciliation, a wonderful place of healing, and a remarkable place. And I’m grateful for all of those who made it possible and for those who continue to keep it as a living monument to the reality that no matter how difficult the trials and how terrible the tribulations, that our nation can heal its wounds.
And it will, and it has.
You know, there’s an old line of Harry Truman’s, “If you want a friend in Washington, go out and buy a dog.” But the fact is that my five friends, my five fellow combatants in the everyday battles in the floor of the Senate and the committee rooms, are of different philosophies who have different parties, and many times, different views.
But there’s a unique bond that exists between us in which I am eternally proud. And when I see them on the floor of the Senate or somewhere in the Capitol, I feel a little lift, because I know that they feel the same obligation that I do, and that is to keep always in mind the memory of those who served and sacrificed, and our obligation to them.
I believe that we must understand one additional fact, and I’ll close. We here are the lucky ones, as Max Cleland said. There are still Vietnam veterans who have not come all the way home.
In VA hospitals and Vet centers all around America, there are still Vietnam veterans who need our comfort, our assistance and our love. And the next time that you see one of them, all Americans should just say, “Welcome home.”
Thank you very much.