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1. Before the service begins, position a staffed Flag of the United States at the front of the room so that it will be to the left as viewed from the audience, and position the VVA colors to the right as viewed by the audience.

2. At the agreed upon time for the VVA service, the congregation will be seated.

3. The VVA officers stand facing the assembly, before or near the casket if the casket is present. Those assembled are, left to right, Chapter President or Designee, three Chapter Officers or Representatives, and Chaplain.)

Chapter President/Designee. We, the members of Chapter #___, Vietnam Veterans of America, have assembled here to honor [Name], who was a Vietnam Veteran.

Those who served in Vietnam share with all other war veterans an awful knowledge and understanding of the true cost of war, for we are all individuals who survived an experience of fright and terror which has no equal, an experience which forever changed and shaped each veteran's life. Veterans of Vietnam have borne an additional burden, for that conflict was not neatly resolved, and many questions remain unanswered.

On this day, however, we know one thing. [Name] has left us. In years gone by many men and women, responding to the call of our nation, answered the summons given and left family and familiar surroundings, people and places loved, to serve in a far off land, returning home to an uncertain reception. Now [Name] has left us once more, answering a roll call we all must face, and we gather to remember him [her], trusting that he [she] has found a reception, a homecoming, of gentleness, health, peace and love.

Parade rest. (Detail responds.) The chaplain will seek God's presence and blessing at this occasion. (Detail hold caps over heart with right hand.)

Chaplain. (May extemporize or repeat): O loving God, be with us as we honor the life of one who served our nation, for [Name], who died on [date], is now in your care. Accept our prayers on behalf of [Name]. May he [she] have a place in your house, may he [she] rest in peace, and may light perpetual shine upon him [her]. Look with mercy upon those among us, family and friends, who are bereaved by his [her] passing. Comfort and console them with your presence and tenderness. We ask these things in your name. Amen. (All repeat Amen. Replace caps.)

Chapter President/Designee. One by one, as years roll by, our numbers decrease, and we who survive gather to mark the end of the earthly tour of duty of those who have departed.

Attention! Officers of Chapter #______ of the Vietnam Veterans of America, you will now perform the last duties of your stations.

When this service is used with casket present, a corner of the casket flag may be folded back at this time, and the three symbols may be placed on the casket in the area uncovered by the flag. Where the service is used at some other time and place, a table at the front of the room, perhaps containing a photograph or some other reminder of the deceased, may be the place where the symbols are placed.

Officer 1: On behalf of Chapter #____, we place this emblem/flag of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which signifies a bond formed years ago, a bond of common experience which cannot be broken.

Officer 2: I bring to a place of honor this unblemished piece of black marble, reminding us that our brother's [sister's] name is now enrolled with the many whose names are written in stone, but even more, written upon the hearts of this community.

Officer 3: I present this rose, a most delicate and beautiful flower, which lives but a brief time, a reminder of the transitory and fragile nature of the life we have been given.

Chapter President/Designee. On behalf of our nation, whose call we answered, we place this emblem of our country, and with it, we dedicate ourselves once more to be witnesses for truth and freedom, the highest ideals of our country but the first casualties of war.

(The Chapter President/Designee then replaces folded corner of the casket flag, laying it over VVA emblem, marble, and rose. The President then salutes casket and returns to his place in the line. When this Memorial Service is used at another time and place, the President simply returns to his/her seat at this time.)

Chaplain. Each year America's veterans gather in November, on Veteran's Day, to remember with solemn ceremony friends and companions made while serving in our nation's armed forces. We gather to renew ties and friendships, to tell stories, to laugh and to cry, and to ask ourselves, "Did this really happen?"

Many of those gatherings are similar to those held at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the 'Wall', in our nation's capital. Vietnam veterans walk side-by-side, arm-in-arm, by the polished, black marble, by the roll of names, perhaps pausing at a panel to look, or to touch a name or a memory. Groups and individuals come, placing mementos, wreaths, and flowers, often roses.

Perhaps [Name] attended those gatherings, if not in body, certainly in spirit. But he [she] will be there no more, to laugh or cry or place a flower, to share a story or a memory, to ask the haunting questions of war. He [she] will be missing, but will our friend be forgotten?

Each year, the people of our nation gather one day in May, on Memorial Day, to pay solemn tribute to those who have served their nation in their time, helping to secure our nation's hopes of truth and freedom. Children come as well and walk and run among the stones and flags, wondering what is going on, asking, "What happened".

And on this day, we will be there to answer this question. We will tell the children the truth, spurred on by the task entrusted to us by those whose names are written in marble and in our hearts, a duty arising out of our common bond and our knowledge of the fragile nature of life. As we speak, we will remember [Name], for God has given to us the gift of memory that we might keep alive those we love.

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys and special celebrations we yearn to share, we remember them.
When we see our nation's young marching behind our flag, or hear 'taps' played, we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are part of us.
And when we answer the final roll, we know that [Name] will fulfill his [her] duty,
and greet us with the words of compassion and friendship, peace and love:
"Welcome home!"*

Chapter President/Designee: This concludes our service.

Chapter President then gives orders necessary to return members of the detail to their seats.

Note: This poem was found in a Jewish Prayer Book. We are looking for the source in order to give proper credit. The service was written primarily by Rev. Alan Cutter, a Vietnam Veteran and Presbyterian minister in Duluth, Minnesota.

Continue with the Guidelines for Chapters upon the Death of a VVA Member

Updated March 21, 1999

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