From my year in the rivers of Vietnam so long ago,
I was touched by the courage and sacrifices
of so many others
--and by their pain and sadness, too.
From my work with the Wall and the Memorial Foundation
under Jan Scruggs' leadership,
I have been touched by the memories of so many others--
the conviction that we are wrong if we ever try to tell others--or ourselves--
that we must somehow "forget the past" -- and move on.
We cannot forget the past --
but with help from each other, with courage, with wisdom, and with faith,
we may understand
how to remember:
how to use past memories--and lessons--
so that history does not become a trap,
but rather a springboard, and a foundation, for a better future.

And therefore, as we end this ceremony today,
I am honored to offer the same closing prayer
that I offered 20 years ago,
on Veterans Day, 1982,
when this Wall helpe us begin the process of remembering--
and therefore the process of healing:
our hearts, our lives, and our nation.

Let us pray:

Almighty God,
some 2500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah cried out with words
filled with pain and anguish,
words of despair,
words which might have come out of the mouths
of our Vietnam Veterans
struggling to reclaim their lives...
until today.

"Why have they been smitten?," he asked,
"and then for us there was no healing.
We looked for peace but could find no good.
We looked for a time of healing, and, behold,
we found terror."

Oh Lord our God, and God of generations past,
help us, we pray,
make this the beginning of the time of healing that we all seek.
Help us ease the terror and the pain of all who suffered because of war.
And help them and help us find the way to peace.

God, let this monument and this dedication
forever remind us that we will come together to mourn our dead.
e will come together to reach out to our wounded.
We will come together to remember and honor our brave.
Only then may we have the vision to dream our dreams again.
Only then may we have the faith to pray our prayers again.
Only then may we have the courage to march together again -- to stand together again --
and--together--to help make this the kind of country,
and the kind of world,
for which we pray.

Today, as we honor our veterans and their families,
we honor all men and women in uniform today, and tomorrow, and their families, too.
But most of all we pray that we honor--always--our nation:
its values, its freedoms...and its dreams.

And may we say, Amen.
Click here for video.
Vietnam Veterans Wall

Prayer at 20th Anniversary Ceremony, 2002

(Repeat of prayer originally delivered at 1982 dedication.)
With Jan Scruggs, 2002 Ceremony.