|Vietnam Veterans of America|
The highlight of the South Metro Denver Chapter 1106 April 1 membership meeting was a 35-vehicle Corvette car show presented by the Central Colorado Corvette Club as part of the organization’s “Vettes for Vets” program. After the club’s leaders spoke to the chapter members about the history of the Corvette, everyone adjourned to the South Metro Fire Rescue parking lot to check out the array of Corvettes, ranging from vintage to brand-new. Chapter President Dave Lyons presented chapter Challenge Coins to the club’s leaders.
Vietnam War Veterans Day
The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 officially designated March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Since then, more and more VVA chapters across the nation have been sponsoring and taking part in events commemorating that day to honor those who served the nation in uniform during the Vietnam War. What follows is a rundown on some of the chapter commemorations.
The keynote speaker for Kent County, Delaware, Chapter 850’s National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremony was Jan C. Scruggs, who led the effort to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The ceremony took place at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover, on Saturday, March 25. “We are absolutely thrilled this iconic fellow veteran [joined] us at this historic time,” said Delaware State Council President Paul Davis. “Last November was the 40th anniversary of the Wall’s dedication, and January 27, 2023, marked the 50th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended America’s combat role in Vietnam.”
In a March 29 program sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, five members of Northern Virginia Dean K. Phillips Chapter 227—Chuck Harris, Chapter President Jay Kalner, Brad Bradshaw, Len Ignatowski, and John Gill—shared their Vietnam War experiences on Vietnam War Veterans Day near The Wall in Washington.
Williamsburg, Virginia, Chapter 957, working with the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, sponsored an event at Veterans Park in Williamsburg on March 29. Retired Air Force pilot Jim Icenhour read the official Commonwealth of Virginia Certificate of Recognition of Vietnam War veterans during the program, and all veterans present received a Congressional Certificate of Recognition. “More than 30 years after the Vietnam War those who served are being honored for their service in an unpopular conflict that tore the nation apart and regarded them as undesirable individuals,” said Art Garrison, Chapter 957’s vice president. “Programs like this are an opportunity for veterans to connect and the community to welcome them home.”
York, Pennsylvania, Chapter 1032 held its National Vietnam War Veterans Day event at the York Fairgrounds. It included a performance by a local middle school’s fife and drum corps and the presentation of Vietnam War veteran lapel pins to all Vietnam vets who attended. Since 2018, York County has flow a banner in the City’s Continental Square reading, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans.”
Roseburg, Oregon, Chapter 805 held its sixth annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29 at the VA’s Roseburg National Cemetery. In his featured speech Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman thanked the leadership and members of Chapter 805, calling the day a time “of honoring some of the toughest and most capable warriors ever asked by America to go in harm’s way, our Vietnam War veterans.”
Pinellas County, Florida, Chapter 522 President Steve Jones was the keynote speaker at the Vietnam Veterans Day ceremonies at Bay Pines National Cemetery. Representatives of the St. Petersburg Regional Office of the VA’s Veteran Benefits Administration were on hand to meet with veterans after the ceremonies to explain new benefits in the recently enacting PACT Act. “Today was a humbling experience,” Bay Pines National Cemetery Director Douglas Maddox said. “Every Vietnam veteran here reflects a legacy of service woven into the fabric of our country’s military history. It was truly an honor to meet these heroes, shake their hands, and say, ‘Thank you and welcome home.’”
Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven was one of the sponsors of a Vietnam Veterans Day Remembrance on March 29 at the Rivermills Senior Center in Chicopee, Mass., along with the city of Chicopee and two other local veterans service organizations.
Williamson County, Tennessee, Chapter 1140, which received its VVA Charter in 2019, held its first Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony at the Williams County Archives and Museum in Franklin, Tenn. “We gather to honor those who served on active duty in our country’s armed services between Nov. 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975, regardless of their location,” said chapter President Rich Krejsa. “Even if they were not ‘boots on the ground,’ they in some way supported those who were. For all of those who served during that period, we are eternally grateful.”
Bryan, Texas, Chapter 937 commemorated the day with ceremonies outside the Clara B. Mounce Public Library in Bryan, the site of the Brazos Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial. During the ceremonies the chapter received honorary partner recognition form the Vietnam War Commemoration and a proclamation from Bryan Mayor Bobby Gutierrez designating March 29 Vietnam War Veterans Day in the city.
Members of Major Louis F. Guillermin Memorial Chapter 436 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, commemorated National Vietnam War Veterans Day with twenty students from West Chester University at the school’s Philips Autograph Library as they unveiled their new Vietnam Digital/Oral History Project. “Hearing the stories of our veterans and actively listening to their experiences is important; it goes beyond expressing thanks for their service,” said WCU History Professor Bob Kodosky, who oversaw the project. “It’s critical for us as we work to understand the complexities that have gone on before us and the complexities that we face today.”
Carson, Nevada, Area Chapter 388 held its annual Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremonies at Mills Park in Carson City on March 29. During the ceremonies two chapter members and a volunteer read the names of the 151 Nevadans who lost their lives in the war.
Tampa, Florida, Chapter 787 hosted a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans and War Dogs event on March 25, together with the Veterans Council of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough County Consumer & Veterans Services at Veterans Memorial Park and Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr. Veterans Museum in Tampa.
Chicago Chapter 242 commemorated March 29 by placing a wreath at the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the first official state Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Illinois.
Santa Barbara, California, Chapter 218 was a sponsor of an April 1 Vietnam Veterans Remembrance event at the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial Building that included a Barbeque lunch.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Michael J Novosel MOH Capital Chapter 542 hosted that city’s National Vietnam War Veterans Day event with ceremonies that included a reading of the names of the 411 military personal from seven central Pennsylvania counties who perished in the Vietnam War. AVVA member Bob Goodman, wearing authentic Vietnam War era jungle fatigues, sounded “Taps” at the end of the ceremonies.
On March 27, the Silver Spring, Maryland, Vet Center hosted a National Vietnam Veteran Celebration at the local Knights of Columbus. Wayne Miller of Silver Spring Chapter 641, the longtime director of the Vet Center, spoke at the end, which included Quilts of Valor presentations.
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