Vice President Pence honors veterans by cleansing Vietnam memorial

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Maureen Groppe

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USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Vice President Pence’s work glove rapidly soaked by with water as he scrubbed the names etched within the black granite partitions of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Saturday.

Pence, the son of a Korean War veteran and father of a Marine, would later lay a wreath and ship a tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

But he started the morning dressed for cleansing obligation, arriving on the National Mall in blue denims, outdated cowboy boots and yellow gloves quickly after the solar rose over the Capitol dome within the distance.

“Good morning all,” Pence mentioned to the group of about 40 volunteers. “Mike Pence. Great of you all to be here. Happy Veterans Day.”

The different cleaners, workers of NewDay USA, a mortgage firm that serves veterans, had already ready the wall for the cleansing by eradicating the flowers, flags, photographs, boots, helmets, wreaths and different mementos mendacity on the base.

Besides leaving choices, guests are additionally inspired to make stencils of the 58,286 names of those that have been killed or lacking in motion through the conflict. Volunteers repeatedly badist clear the wall, retaining its floor as “reflective and peaceful” as designer Maya Lin supposed.

Cleaners often spray the wall with hoses earlier than and after scrubbing with mbadive brushes. But Saturday’s below-freezing temperatures required a extra hands-on method with sponges and paper towels.

“I don’t know why I’m wearing gloves because I can’t feel my fingers at this point,” one volunteer mentioned.

After arriving on the memorial together with his spouse, Pence carried an orange cleansing bucket with the message “Let’s Do This” to an space near the middle of the wall.

 “You got a spot for us to work?” he requested.

Wylie Gilbert, 30, of Maryland, gave Pence some cleansing suggestions – scrub arduous, up and down, left and proper.

“You scrub and I’ll dry,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke mentioned to the vp.

Pence, although, ended up doing most of his personal scrubbing and drying, apart from some higher-up spots that the taller Zinke received for him.

Robert Salazar was the highest identify and one of many sections of wall Pence cleaned.

While the vp saved his work gloves on, Karen Pence tried scrubbing barehanded, which rapidly led to crimson fingers.

“How are you doing dear?” her husband requested at one level.

Gilbert mentioned afterwards that Karen Pence advised him she didn’t thoughts the hands-on work because it gave her time to mirror.

“Where are you from, ma’am?” Gilbert requested as they labored alongside one another.

“We’re from Indiana,” Karen Pence responded.

Gilbert advised the Pences he serves within the Army National Guard along with working at NewDay USA.

“Thank you for your service,” the vp mentioned.

“Thank you for yours — and for coming out here this morning,” Gilbert responded.

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Pence additionally talked with Park Ranger James Pierce, who was injured in Afghanistan when serving within the National Guard in 2012. Pierce, 34, was one in every of three survivors from an badault by a suicide bomber, which killed 56 individuals.

Talking to the volunteers after Pence left, Pierce referred to as being within the Park Service his dream job. After a number of reconstructive surgical procedures, Pierce interned with the Park Service by Operation Guardian, earlier than being supplied a full-time job.

“This is pretty cool,” Pierce mentioned of Pence’s go to. “The vice president comes out and washes the wall.”

He advised the volunteers about badembly a wheel chair-bound veteran who got here to the National Mall by an Honor Flight, journeys that deliver veterans from across the nation to the conflict memorials.

After Pierce shared his historical past with the veteran, the person stood up and saluted him. The girl with the veteran, in tears, advised Pierce that was the primary time he’d stood and saluted in 4 years. He died quickly after the journey, Pierce mentioned.

“You never know what impression you have,” Pierce advised the group. “You volunteer for the men and women who laid down their lives for our great country.”

Before Pence left to prepare for his Arlington National Cemetery go to, he posed for a bunch picture on the heart of the monument.

“When the American flag waves …” NewDay CEO Tom Lynch mentioned, “We wave with it!” the group shouted again.


 

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