Columns

A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You

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Washington, March 31, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
On March 29, 1973, the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. They served, they fought, and they sacrificed. But when they returned home to the United States, like many who returned earlier in the war, they were not met with cheers of support and thanks. Instead of parades and celebrations, those who served in Vietnam were greeted with a cold, and at times, hostile reception. It was truly a dark moment in our nation’s history when those who served our country were reviled instead of revered.

Millions of Americans served in uniform during the Vietnam War. Some returned home to their families, while others made the ultimate sacrifice. For many, their sacrifice continued long after they returned home and can still be felt today. While over the last few decades the United States has worked to correct the treatment they experienced, there is more we all can do to honor Vietnam veterans. Recognition now is an insufficient substitute for the recognition Vietnam veterans should have received decades ago, but it is important to continue working to thank and celebrate each and every veteran for their service to our nation.

On Thursday, I had the distinct honor of recognizing our community’s Vietnam veterans and their families at a special Vietnam Veterans Commemoration in Staunton. Well over 100 Vietnam veterans participated in this long-overdue “welcome home.” The Commemoration was held in honor of every man and woman who served in the United States military during the Vietnam Era, regardless of location of service, from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Each veteran received a pin with a special message engraved, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.” It was a moving event, and I was humbled to participate and play a role in celebrating Vietnam veterans.

Additionally, the Commemoration was held the day after Vietnam Veterans Day, which marks that date in 1973 when the last combat troops left Vietnam. The day before this anniversary was observed, the President signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act into law, which encourages all Americans to fly the American flag on March 29 every year to show our appreciation for the service and sacrifices made by this generation of veterans. Congress will continue working together to ensure that all veterans receive the quality care, benefits, and respect that they earned and deserve. Caring for America’s veterans is an issue that transcends politics.

It is impossible to fully convey our gratitude and express our unyielding pride to those who have worn the uniform of this great nation, but we must always try. That starts with a commitment to never abandoning a generation of American veterans. To all who served during the Vietnam era, a grateful nation thanks and honors you.
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