|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Many VVA chapters took part in National Vietnam War Veterans Day commemorations throughout the country on March 29. That included members of Leavenworth, Kansas, Chapter 75, who honored some 200 Vietnam War veterans at the local Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center. As the Vietnam veterans entered the hospital that day, chapter members thanked them for their service and presented them with commemorative Vietnam War veteran lapel pins.
Members of Piedmont (Virginia) Area Chapter 752 took part in the first-ever National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremonies held at the Piedmont Area Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the old county courthouse in Culpeper, Virginia. Chapter 752 AVVA member Linda Thompson, the widow of longtime former chapter president Sam Thompson, read a poem by chapter member Larry Hoffman, which he wrote for the 1998 dedication of the memorial, a black granite wall inscribed with the names of 19 local service members who died in Vietnam. Sam Thompson designed the memorial, which is dedicated to “all those from the Piedmont who served and died in the Vietnam War,” and the chapter raised the funds to build it.
Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 found an innovative way to commemorate the day: by teaming up with the U.S. Army’s 8th Theater Sustainment Command at Fort Shafter to record a virtual ceremony that was shown on local TV and on YouTube. In it, longtime chapter member Allan Hoe served as emcee. He told viewers that the program honored “the memory of our friends, comrades-in-arms, and our buddies who were denied the privilege of proclaiming, ‘I am a Vietnam War veteran,’ ” as he stood in front of the Hawaii Vietnam War Memorial on the grounds of the State Capitol in Honolulu, with the American flag he flew in Vietnam blowing in the breeze behind him. You can watch the entire video, which includes a Native Hawaiian Oli chant.
President Greg Bethards and other members of Kentuckiana Chapter 545 in Louisville, Kentucky, took part in March 29 ceremonies sponsored by the Louisville Vet Center at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elizabethtown, Ky. In his remarks, Bethards, a retired Army Command Sergeant Major, reminded those in attendance of the underwhelming reception Vietnam veterans received after coming home from the war, and stressed the importance of welcoming home the newest generation of veterans. “Our nation must resolve never to repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said.
Members of Roanoke Valley, Virginia, Chapter 81 joined with the Association of the United States Army to commemorate March 29 with a wreath laying at the Roanoke Valley War Memorial. “I am pleased to honor and celebrate you Vietnam veterans and say, ‘Welcome Home,’” said Chapter Secretary Keith Young in a recorded presentation. “You are not forgotten. You served our country. You are patriots.”
The Villages, Florida, Chapter 1036 color guard was the lead unit at March 29 ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial Park at Spanish Springs in The Villages.
Members of Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapter 116 held a National Vietnam War Veterans Day commemoration in the city’s Carter Park. “Today is the day that we recognize those who served in one of the most divisive, misunderstood, ill-advised military incursions in our nation’s history,” Chapter President Richard Earley said in his remarks. Vietnam veterans’ issues “were not being addressed by either the federal government or the veterans’ community as a whole. Many still failed to make a distinction between the war and the warrior. Where there was not outright hostility, there was indifference.” After the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, he said, “the American people realized the 3 million men and women who came home from Vietnam had been treated unfairly and with indifference and many still needed real help. On this Vietnam Veterans Day, in the midst of a pandemic, we will continue to remember the service of those who answered the call.”
Queens, New York, Chapter 32 began a new program in March offering free transportation to and from doctor, dentist, and other medical appointments in New York City to veterans over 55 who live in the City Council District 30, which includes six neighborhoods in Queens. The program is being funded through a grant from District 30 Councilman Bob Holden’s office.
Philip H. Grego Chapter 798 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, donated $1,000 in February to the local Pottawattamie County Veterans Affairs’ food pantry, which distributes food items to veterans and their families in need. “As people are dealing with the pandemic and the winter, we thought this was a good way to help out,” Chapter President Ben Weise said. Nick Jedlicka, the department’s director, said that the chapter’s donation is “a great opportunity to provide more services for” veterans. “We really appreciate everything the VVA has done to help.”
After canceling its Wagons for Veterans fundraiser last year because of the pandemic, Texarkana (Texas) Area Chapter 278 held the event on March 13 at the Four States Fairgrounds in Texarkana, Arkansas. More than a thousand people showed up during the three-hour event and chose from a wide array of home-cooked food served from three chuck wagons manned by chapter members. Chapter President Greg Beck reported that the event took in some $15,000, which the chapter will use to help local veterans with home repairs, utility bill payments, funeral expenses, rent, food, and medical assistance.
Members of Auburn, New York, Chapter 704 have continued to reach out to help fellow veterans during the pandemic, including through coordinated appearances on WYSR-TV in Syracuse, radio public service announcements, and interviews on WAUB, Finger Lakes News Radio in Auburn. The chapter “is in a close-knit collaborative networking system with eight other Vietnam veteran Central New York chapters,” said chapter member Linda Townsend. “Each chapter shares its local community involvement with the Vietnam veteran network, as well as the public activities in each of their communities. Whenever possible, the chapters will come together and support each other’s activities and events.”
Dedication ceremonies were held on March 27 for the new site of the Southwest Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Eco Park in Cape Coral, Fla. The memorial was dedicated in 2008 in Fort Myers by Lee County, Florida, Firebase Chapter 594. It contains the names of 80 service members from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glade counties who died in the war, and was moved because of extremely limited parking at the Fort Myers site. Charles Reed, who heads the Chapter 594 Memorial Fund, worked for more than ten years to find photographs of the 80 men, completing the task in 2016, along with a list of their awards and medals. “Chuck has a tireless drive to connect a face to every name on” the memorial, said Gary Bowler, president of the Veterans Midpoint Memorial Trust, which spearheaded the memorial’s move. “His labor of love and dedication to this project has made it possible for families to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Work began in March on a new pavilion honoring Vietnam War veterans in Patriot’s Park in Victoria, Texas, sponsored by American Crosswords Chapter 898 in Victoria. The pavilion will include some eight hundred engraved bricks dedicated to local veterans who served in the Vietnam War, along with a mural, and the VVA logo. “It looks great,” Chapter President Ernest Montez said of the pavilion. “This is for those who didn’t make it back, plus the veterans who served there and are still alive.”
|The VVA Veteran® is a publication of Vietnam Veterans of America. ©All rights reserved.
8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910 | www.vva.org | contact us