Minnesotans gather to commemorate veterans

by David Anderson

With the recent barrage of Vietnam War remembrances resulting from the 25th anniversary of the United States’ most controversial war, Memorial Day holds a special significance this year.
At the Minnesota Vietnam Veteran Memorial in St. Paul, Minnesotans gathered to honor those who fought for the United States with marches, songs, a flyover and a flag-raising ceremony.
Nearly 70,000 Minnesotans served in Vietnam between 1959 and 1975. Of them, 1,077 died and 43 are reported missing in action.
Thomas Dorrel, a recent University history graduate, attended the commemoration with his father-in-law, a Vietnam veteran.
People need to remember those who died in the Vietnam War because it is part of American history, he said.
“It shows the human condition at its extremes,” said Dorrel, now an officer himself. “It shows how they handle themselves, how society handles the conflict and what they do afterward.”
Rep. Bruce Vento, D-Minn., addressed the crowd of 400 about the need to facilitate access to U.S. citizenship for Hmong veterans.
The House passed a bill sponsored by Vento on May 2 waiving a number of requirements for citizenship such as the English language test.
“They probably have passed a more important test than an English language test,” he said. “They passed the test of putting their lives on the line, which is the ultimate test, after all.”
In his annual Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, President Clinton stressed current excavation efforts to identify unrecovered American casualties from the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., expressed his fondness of Memorial Day commemorations during Monday’s St. Paul commemoration.
“This is when Minnesotans get together,” he said. “We come together at this very holy place with love and commitment and support to one another.”
Dorrell and his father-in-law agreed.
“People made a sacrifice,” he said. “They committed themselves to doing what their country asked them, and why not remember that?”