Holidays Remembered

For many years the volunteers of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial have come together to join the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in decorating and dedicating a Christmas tree at the Wall.

In the words of Allen McCabe – we were bringing Christmas to them.

dsc06866

Volunteers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Suzanne Sigona with fellow volunteers

National Park Service Volunteers – Vietnam Veterans Memorial

As we prepare for Veterans Day, I want to recognize the National Park Service volunteers who have the honor of serving at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. This photo is missing some key people but it shows many of the individuals who devote their time to serving veterans, family members and other visitors to this sacred ground. This photo was taken on November 11, 2014 and shows individuals with service time ranging from 28 years to 4 days. We appreciate the support given by the National Park Service and the involvement of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund .
I am honored to serve. – Suzanne Sigona

Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day 2015

We hope that Americans will reach out to the loved ones who have lost so much in support of our country.Parents have lost their children and children have been left without a mother or a father. Brothers and sisters have missed the support of that sibling they idolized.
September 27th was established to recognize Gold Star Mothers. Through groups like Sons and Daughters In Touch, the awareness and honor has been expanded to all family members.
Gold Star Family Day

Honoring Service and Progress Made for All

wreathDianeSuzanne (4)– International Women’s Day is March 8th. This is a date that goes with little recognition in US compared to other countries. The United Nations has set the theme of “Equality for women is progress for all”. Honoring Service would like to recognize those women who have carved the way by serving in the military. One in particular is Diane Evans who founded the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation. She served as a nurse in the US Army and has continued to gather other women who served to recognize the commitment that was made. In the spirit of progress for all, we thank all women who served then and now.

20th Anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial ~Suzanne Sigona

I have been asked to represent the National Park Service volunteers who serve at the Wall as we present the wreath today. I hope to serve us well.

I started working at the Wall in 1988 when few wanted to talk about Vietnam and fewer ever referenced women.The closest we were to that experience was through one of our fellow volunteers, Nancy Smoyer and her discussion was limited.

We did hear from women. We heard from
-The mother who was wringing her hands as she had her morning cup of coffee
-The sister who went to the mailbox to see if there was a letter from her brother
-The wife who wondered how she would hold a household together during this second tour of duty
-The daughter who barely knew her father
-The girlfriend who could not understand how her boyfriend came home so different
-The teacher who attended the funeral of a former student
-Family members who were still looking for answers
-Military personnel who served outside of Vietnam
-AND slowly and occasionally – a woman who served in-country

As volunteers we have been trusted with the stories. You have confided in us. We’ve shared tears (and offered tissues). We’ve joined you in honoring this space.
Before the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, there was a man who would come to the Wall on the holidays and on the back of fatigue jacket he had the words, “Thank you, Ladies”. That was the closest thing I saw to acknowledging the women who served.

Through the work of many of you who are here today, we now have this means of honoring women who served. We often hear it referenced as the nurse’s statue but we know that it represents ALL women who served as civilian personnel, Red Cross Volunteer (including our Donut Dollies), humanitarian aid workers, correspondents, and – yes – those angels in uniform that we call nurses.

Typical of those times all women who served, broke the mold, plowed the way, bore the scars and had a few laughs in these times we refer to as Vietnam.
The volunteers who serve at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial thank you for your service. We appreciate your trust as we serve as guardians to this space and to your private stories. We have the good fortune to be in this place – at this time- doing something that we LOVE.

The “yellow hats” present this wreath to honor EVERY woman who served.
Thank you.
Suzanne Sigona
Denver – Park Service volunteer since 1988

1959 to

One Memorial Day weekend I saw a young man wearing a T-Shirt that had writing on it that I will always remember. The back of his t-shirt had the map of Vietnam and the rocker on top said “Vietnam – 1959 to Forever”. I have quoted it often and today the reality was imprinted once again.

I have been blessed to do work in Vietnam with a Sister from Nha Trang who is now in her 70’s. Those blessings have been amplified this week because she is visiting in my Denver home. There are many things to tell about our journey together over the last 6 years but today is a day that I will always hold close to my heart.

Her visit here coincides with the observance of All Saint’s day and All Soul’s day. I have learned that it is customary to visit the cemeteries during the days following All Soul’s day. I suggested to Sister that I would like to visit the Veteran’s Cemetery here in Denver – Fort Logan. As we prepared to leave the house, I realized the seriousness of the request I made. I was concerned that if I continued to think about it, my sorrow would prevent me from making the journey.

As we rode to Fort Logan I thanked Sister for making this visit with me. She responded, “I am pleased to go to express my gratitude.” You can only imagine how powerful those words were for me.

For those who have never been to Fort Logan you should know that the care of this sacred ground rivals Arlington Cemetery (in my humble opinion). As we turned toward the gates, Sister uttered a nearly silent and prolonged, “Wow”.

We slowly traveled through and returned to the area of burials from 1968-1970. She asked that we get out of the car and we began walking. We read headstone after headstone. We went in different directions for a period and we came back together.

As we were walking together she shared with me that she met many soldiers who were with Black Hawks and I knew she meant the helicopters. She also told the story of a Major who made arrangements to deliver supplies and the tragedy of that commitment.

As she spoke I wanted to magically transport her to the loved ones who still want to know more about their father, brother, boyfriend, or husband. I wanted to be able to tell those helicopter pilots that she is safe, healthy, and still doing amazing work in Vietnam. She has seen so much and continues to strengthen people. Each story she tells reminds me of those who wish they knew a way to find her.

I am blessed to be in her presence.
“Vietnam – 1959 to Forever”

Veterans Day at the Wall – November 11

DSC06948This year we will be paying tribute to the women who served. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial statue was dedicated 20 years ago. It honors all women who served during this time. These are the women who served as Red Cross volunteers (known as Donut Dollies), the civilian personnel assigned to the war zone, the passionate individuals who were doing humanitarian work, the correspondents who were cutting edge with their commitment to serve, and (YES) our angels in uniform – the nurses. Remember that MANY served outside of Vietnam in support of all that was happening there.
Peace and thanks to each of you (including the groups of women who served that I missed). “Those who wait also serve.” – Suzanne Sigona

Honoring Those Who Served

Winter morning at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial - photo by Suzanne Sigona

Winter morning at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – photo by Suzanne Sigona

Visit this section to learn more about programs serving our veterans. Connect to several projects through photos and writings. Visit the powerful experiences of serving our veterans, particularly the stories of volunteering at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for 25 years. This site offers a preview of the writings for …and I Call It “Wall Magic” by Suzanne Sigona.