Saluting Vietnam veterans


Photo: Local residents are pictured Thursday as they placed a wreath in front of the Highland County Veterans Memorial in Hillsboro in recognition of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Pictured, from left, are Steph Roland with the Highland County Veterans Service Office, Vietnam veteran Dan Music, Becky Williams with the VSO, Hillsboro VFW Commander Rick Wilkin, VFW Senior Vice Commander Dwight Reynolds and VFW Quartermaster David Pinney.

By Jeff Gilliland – jgilliland@timesgazette.com

Saying that “they sure didn’t get the welcome home they deserved,” Hillsboro VFW Post 9094 and Highland County Veterans Service Office personnel placed a wreath Wednesday in front of the veterans memorial in Hillsboro in recognition of National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Hillsboro VFW Commander Rick Wilkin said it was the first time a wreath has been placed in front of the Highland County Veterans Memorial for the relatively new Vietnam War Veterans Day.

“Steph (Roland with the Veterans Service Office) alerted us that it was Vietnam Veterans Day, we talked about it, and we decided we would put a wreath up there for that,” Wilkin said.

Wilkin said the wreath would remain in front of the memorial through the weekend.

Roland said the Veterans Service Office is selling artificial Vietnam War Poppies for a donation. She said all funds raised will go toward the cost of The Traveling Wall, an 80-percent scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., coming to Chillicothe later this year.

The Veterans Service Office also has a lapel pin available for Vietnam veterans, and larger pins for Vietnam veteran family members and for those that would like to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families.

There has been some confusion, Roland said, over exactly which day Vietnam Veterans Day should be observed.

It’s a holiday that’s been celebrated since 1973 on either March 29 or March 30 of each year through a patchwork of state resolutions, according to several websites. However, on March 28, 2017, the date of the holiday was set as March 29 by President Donald Trump through the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017. It encourages Americans to display the U.S. flag in honor of Vietnam veterans.

A similar holiday was previously observed on March 29, 2012, through a proclamation signed by then-President Barack Obama. That year marked the start of a 13-year-long celebration honoring Vietnam War veterans that runs through Veterans Day 2025, according to military.com.

In November 2017, Trump marked Veterans Day and the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by meeting with U.S. veterans in Vietnam.

“One of my great honors is to represent the people standing right behind me great, great warriors and veterans of the Vietnam War,” he said during a meeting with veterans at a hotel in Danang, Vietnam, according to the website. “To each of you with me today, you are the heroes who fulfilled your duty to our nation. And each of you, under the most difficult conditions, did what you had to do, and you did it well.”

During that meeting, Trump also pledged to continue to support efforts by the Pentagon’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which works worldwide to recover the remains of U.S. troops missing in combat.

“Our accountability efforts in Vietnam are very, very important to all of us. We will not rest until all of the 1,253 missing veterans are returned home,” Trump said, according to the website. “Our veterans are a national treasure, and I thank them all for their service, sacrifice and patriotism.”

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or jgilliland@timesgazette.com.

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