As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, it is important to honor those who served our country and ensure that they receive their rightful place among generations of U.S. veterans.
Half a century has passed since America’s involvement in Southeast Asia began and yet that conflict continues to impact our society. Just saying the word Vietnam invokes feelings and emotions for anyone who lived through that turbulent era.
Like Korea before it, Vietnam was a conflict without a clean resolution for our nation or for the men and women who served in them as well as those who followed the war through evening television newscasts.
What made it worse for many veterans was the way it finally ended. Statues, parades and honors were bestowed upon those who served in the “War to End All Wars” and to the “Greatest Generation” that battled tyranny in Europe and the Pacific theatres.
That wasn’t the case for the veterans who served in the jungles of Southeast Asia. They came home to a divide nation and received little gratitude, and in some cases outright animosity, as a reward for their service and sacrifice.
However, over the years, America’s regard for her Vietnam veterans has thankfully changed and they are receiving the respect and grateful thanks they deserve for their service and sacrifice.
As a nation, we should always be proud of our military men and women, both past and present, for they represent the best our country has to offer. And we should honor their service, pay tribute to their courage and thank them for contributions to our country.
As part of that effort, I will be honoring local veterans who served during the Vietnam era at two special ceremonies to be held during the month of November in Somerset and Uniontown.
The first ceremony will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 5, at the Somerset Junior/Senior High School Auditorium, 645 South Columbia Avenue, Somerset PA.
The second will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 19, at the Laurel Highlands High School Auditorium, 304 Bailey Avenue. Uniontown, PA.
The commemorative event will be held in conjunction with the Department of Defense as part of a nationwide tribute to Vietnam era veterans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war.
A special Vietnam veteran’s lapel pin has been produced as part of the program and will be distributed to attending veterans and widows of Vietnam era veterans.
The heroes who served during Vietnam faced incredible dangers and made incredible sacrifices. In many cases, returning veterans were not given the respect they deserved following their service. I am hopeful that these events will serve as a reminder that their efforts are deeply appreciated.