Letter: Recognizing Vietnam vets



Last week, the Horseshoe Prairie Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, hosted an open house for Vietnam veterans to celebrate “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” the date of the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.

The day commemorates the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and is part of a national effort to recognize the men and women who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home more than 40 years ago.

This past year, the Daughters of the American Revolution have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the war. It is our intent and privilege to honor these veterans who have spent many years post-war without a show of appreciation by the general population.

The Vietnam veterans who attended the open house were thanked personally by members of the local Chapter, were given commemorative lapel pins provided to the Chapter by the U. S. Department of Defense, and enjoyed refreshments while catching up and chatting with other Vietnam veterans. Living United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin. If you are a Vietnam veteran and would like to receive one of the commemorative lapel pins, contact your local American Legion or VFW Post, and we will provide those until we run out. Our stock is limited so please contact them soon if you are interested. The attendees of last week’s event will also receive a special certificate that is provided only to Vietnam veterans by the DAR.

Several of the veterans attending the event shared their stories with Chapter members as well as with other veterans. In particular, I would like to share with the readers that one of the veterans told me that it was suggested that he not wear his uniform upon his arrival back in the United States as harm might come to him due to the controversy of that war and the ensuing protests. He did not change out of uniform, and although no physical harm came to him upon arrival, he endured many negative comments, looks, and general apathy, as did many of our service men and women during that period of upheaval in our country. From that time forward, he indicated, he had never been personally thanked for his service until the open house event last week. If you are aware of a Vietnam veteran in your neighborhood, place of worship, or any other opportunity avails itself, please step forward to thank them. Nearly 60,000 American soldiers lost their lives in Vietnam, and those who returned were often shunned and ignored. These young men, some enlisted and some draftees, were put into harm’s way in a brutal and unfamiliar terrain and culture. No longer young men, many still carry physical and emotional injuries from that time long ago. I wish to recognize as well the women who bravely served in Vietnam, many of them serving fellow soldiers in life-saving capacities. Let’s make sure we let them know how much we appreciate them, and all of our military service veterans.

The Horseshoe Prairie Chapter works to recognize and thank all service veterans as well as providing education and patriotic projects throughout Hamilton County. Membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution is based upon a woman’s direct ancestry to a Patriot who served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War or who served in a civilian capacity to directly aid the Revolutionary War. For more information, check the official NSDAR website, www.dar.org.

Sharon McMahon



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