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Congressman Don Young Receives High Honors for Vietnam War Memorial Legislation


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, Alaskan Congressman Don Young was honored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) for “exemplary and courageous service to the country” for his work on commonsense legislation that will make possible the construction of a state-of-the-art visitor’s education center at the Vietnam Veterans Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C.  

Congressman Young was recognized at the VVMF’s “2013 Build the Center Benefit” with the Charles “Mac” Mathias Award for his efforts in passing H.R. 588, the Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act. Congressman Young’s legislation, which was signed into law on July 1st of this year, removes unnecessary fundraising restrictions on the VVMF by allowing them to publicly recognize donors to their future Education Center at the Wall. This bill will help the VVMF make substantial steps forward in raising the nearly $100 million necessary for construction of an education center on the National Mall intended to educate visitors about the Vietnam War and honor the veterans who so honorably served.

Congressman Don Young accepting the Charles “Mac” Mathias Award from Former Governor and Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

 “While I am thankful and humbled to receive this distinguished award that has honored great people before me, I must say I do not feel deserving,” said Congressman Don Young when accepting the award. “My role in this Education Center was simple – I did my job and passed commonsense legislation that made right one of our nation’s many wrongs. I was extremely happy to help spearhead this cause through Congress that cuts away the bureaucratic red tape we often see in Washington, D.C., and works to educate the millions of visitors to the Vietnam War Memorial each year at no cost to the taxpayer.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Charles “Mac” Mathias Award was presented to Congressman Don Young on Thursday evening.

The award honoring Senator Charles Mathias, the man responsible for choosing the National Mall as the site of the Memorial and major proponent of the 1979 legislation that authorized the construction of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, has previously been awarded to former Governor and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (2012), Secretary of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (2011), and former Senator John Warner (2010).

 In 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center Act to authorize the construction of an Education Center at the Vietnam Wall. The bill passed in large part to the strong support of the millions of visitors each year who stand in honor of the more than 58,000 name’s of fallen soldiers. The bill, however, contained restrictions that prohibited donor recognition at the Education Center even if it abided by National Parks Service regulations and was discreet, unobtrusive, and would not contain any advertising or company logos.  Since 2003, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund have raised over $40 million from private donors to date, but this number still falls short of the funds needed.

 “Overall, my bill was very straightforward,” said Congressman Young.  “It merely provided the VVMF the ability to recognize their patriotic donors.  This recognition will lead to larger donations, a faster fundraising pace, and a more quick and timely construction of the Education Center. Due to the combined efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and a number of other Veteran Organization like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), we will finally be able to build this Center so that the American people will always remember the sacrifices made on their behalf.”

The Education Center at the Wall will tell interactive stories and pay tribute to American service members lost in the Vietnam War and will serve as a memorial for veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, until they are able to get one of their own.

Architectural designs for the “Education Center at The Wall”

Source:  Office of Congressman Don Young

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