Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vietnam POW's Reunion Dinner at Nixon Library

May 24, 2013

Nearly 200 Vietnam POWs and their spouses gathered for a banquet gala at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library tonight on the 40th anniversary of the White House dinner hosted for them by President Nixon on May 24, 1973 – the largest dinner in White House history.

                                                  Ross Perot and Tricia Cox Nixon

The program featured remarks by President Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox, business leader and POW advocate Ross Perot, and Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as a video tribute from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

                                                              Tricia Cox Nixon

The events also included a special performance from the POW choir, who sang at the original dinner.

                                                                                   POW Choir

40 years ago, First Lady Pat Nixon had 126 tables set for the more than 1,300 guests, and arranged for the construction of a canopy over the South Lawn, which itself covered more area than the entire Executive Mansion.

The men and their families were entertained by a Hollywood star-studded lineup including Bob Hope, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Irving Berlin. They were paid a special tribute by John Wayne, who told them: “I’ll ride into the sunset with you anytime.”

Many wept openly when Irving Berlin led the chorus of heroes in “God Bless America.”

“Some of the men almost seemed to be shouting so that the words could be heard all the way to Hanoi,” President Nixon later said.

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