The holiday season is a time when many Americans buy presents, and reunite with family and friends. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., some took time to send a message of hope, or to remember their fallen comrades in arms.
The Christmas tree standing at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial may not be as colorfully decorated as other Christmas trees. But for the veterans attending the annual ceremonies, the tree and its trimmings carry a powerful emotional message.
"We are here to keep in our thoughts, to show appreciation, to American soldiers around the world, especially those in the combat zones, with this Christmas tree," says Pat Scruggs, who is president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Veterans read holiday messages from all over the world. The messages commemorated those who fought in the Vietnam War, as well as those currently serving overseas.
After reading some of the messages and hanging them on the tree, the tree was carried to a spot at the center of the Vietnam War Memorial.
Ted Daniel fought in World War II and the Korean War. He's a member of Rolling Thunder, the annual motorcycle caravan that honors those missing in action.
"It's very good that people still have feelings, people still come here, and this is what it's all about."
The memorial was designed by Maya Ying Lin, a Chinese-American. More than 58,000 names of U.S. dead and missing in action who served in the Vietnam War are listed on the memorial's polished black granite slabs.
Mr. Daniel says he wishes war no more. "It sure would be nice to go the rest of our lives, without having to fight."
Both the memorial and Christmas tree stand in mute testimony to those who did.