Giving Vietnam Veterans the recognition they deserve

GRAFTON— The Grafton National Cemetery is planning to host an event to honor Vietnam veterans, and give them the recognition they deserve.

On January 12, 1962, the United States Army pilots sent more than 1,000 South Vietnamese service members to capture a National Liberation Front stronghold, near Saigon, Vietnam.

The Chopper Operation marked America’s first combat mission against Vietnam, and the beginning of an extensive and challenging war.

The conflict lasted for more than a decade.

By 1972, less than 30 percent of Americans were in support of the war, holding protests in Washington D.C. and on college campuses throughout the county. However, the troops continued to served their country with honor.

President Nixon wanted to continue to support South Vietnam’s war efforts but, with anti-war sentiments growing in the United States, and the number of casualties in Vietnam rising, Nixon felt pressure to end the war.

In November 1972, Nixon began to plan an exit strategy with National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and Major General Alexander Haig. His plans to cease-fire were announced on national television in January 1973.

On March 29, 1973, the last United States troops left South Vietnam, and the last prisoners of war held in North Vietnam, arrived on American soil. Although the war would last another two years, the South Vietnamese would no longer receive American assistance, which ended America’s direct military involvement in the Vietnam War.

After the 11 years of combat, many Veterans of the Vietnam War arrived home only to be shunned or mistreated. The courage of these brave men and women was disregarded.

On March 29,1974, President Nixon signed a proclamation designating that the day be recognized as Nation Vietnam Veterans Day, the day that would commemorate the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and their families, a day to recognize the men and women, who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home from the war.

“As a Nation, we acknowledge our deep respect and admiration by setting aside March 29,1974, as Vietnam Veterans Day, to remember that the honorable peace America achieved came through great sacrifice,” the proclamation read.

Nixon urged all U.S. citizens to take part in the day and commemorate these veterans, and Grafton’s own historical National Cemetery is inviting the community to join them this year for the 44th anniversary ceremony.

The Grafton National Cemetery will be holding a Vietnam Anniversary commemoration ceremony on Wednesday, March 29, at 2:30 p.m.

“The purpose of this ceremony is to thank and honor our veterans of the Vietnam War, and to give them the recognition they deserved when they came home all those years ago,” shared Cemetery Director, Keith Barnes.

Barnes will be the Keynote speaker for the event. The Department of Veterans Affairs Grafton National Cemetery will be honoring the service, sacrifice and achievements of the Armed Forces with the anniversary event.

“The event will also include a pinning ceremony for all Vietnam veterans in attendance. Lapel pins will be presented in a dignified manner to each Vietnam veteran during the event, and accompanying remarks to reflect the nation’s thanks will be made,” added Barnes.

Everyone is welcome to help honor these men and women. For more information, please contact Keith Barnes, at 304-265-2044.

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