Veteran Speaks Out After Being Denied Access to Vietnam Memorial on Memorial Day Because of President’s Visit
Due to high security surrounding President Obama’s visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day, many veterans were turned away, unable to mourn their fellow soldiers at The Wall.
Retired Army Lieutenant General John Sylvester was one of the vets turned away, and he spoke out about the rebuff on Fox and Friends. Sylvester said that he didn’t take offense on his own behalf, but on behalf of all those who died in the war. He said, “It’s about those 58,000 plus soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that are represented on that wall. That wall is America’s wall. It is not the presidents wall.”
The organization of which Sylvester is a part, the 11th Armored Cavalry Association, gathers on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day to place a wreath on the wall and to “be able to stand there reflectively, to be able to reach up and touch names of real-life humans, people that we knew, and it is our day as veterans to go and honor those men who are represented on that wall.”
The DOD Office of Commemorations offered the following statement on the situation:
“It will be impossible to accommodate everyone who wishes to be present in front of The Wall for the Memorial Day ceremony but arrangements are being made to provide an additional viewing area. In addition, attendees will be able to see the events unfold on a JumboTron viewing screen at the site. Security will be very restrictive.”
While Sylvester can appreciate the level of security necessary for the president’s safety, he said The Wall was closed from before 9am until after 3pm, and that the president was there for only 16 minutes.