Observe Vietnam Veterans Day Tuesday
Published 12:11 am Sunday, March 27, 2016
As a member of the Natchez Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, I recently received a new blog post on my computer. The blog was from Dr. Linda Schwartz, VA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning concerning the observance of Vietnam Veterans Day on Tuesday, March 29. Our DAR Natchez Chapter would like to encourage the citizens of the Natchez and Vidalia area to join us in this special remembrance.
Dr. Schwartz served on active duty with the Air Force during the Vietnam War and survived a serious aircraft accident while on duty. On her way to pursuing her present position her admiration grew for the extraordinary work and activities and the tremendous legacy of service and devotion that has been enhanced and enriched by all that the Daughters of the American Revolution have done and are doing for American’s Veterans.
She is particularly proud to be promoting at the Department of Veterans Affairs efforts to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. This commemoration is a long-overdue opportunity for all Americans to recognize, honor and thank our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. Between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975 nine million Americans, (about 7.2 million living today) served during that period. The commendation makes no distinction between Veterans who served in-country, in-theater or were stationed elsewhere during those 20 years. All answered the call of duty. If you would like to become a commemorative partner, you can learn more at: www.vietnamwar50th.com.
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Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has created a very special and bold event to honor veterans who served during that time span. He issued a special message on November 2015 throughout the VA System nationwide which reads “VA Central Office, along with nearly 9,000 organizations across the country, has joined the Department of Defense as a commemorative partner to honor our Nation’s Vietnam Veterans. I have designated March 29, 2016, as a day for our Department to express our tremendous gratitude and support to this generation of Americans through ceremonies across the nation.” The date of March 29 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day when the last American troops left Vietnam in 1973. It serves as the perfect occasion to recognize, honor and thank our Vietnam veterans and their families. The Natchez Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution are encouraging all citizens to join in and honor our Vietnam veterans on this Day. We hope that everyone will help spread the message and get involved as well.
Dr. Schwartz states, “I was there for our first welcoming home.” It fell far short of recognizing the extraordinary sacrifices our men and women in uniform made on their nation’s behalf. There were no yellow ribbons. There were no parades or celebrities welcoming the troops home. Often there were no flags at half-staff to honor our dead. To be a part of what is expected to be the biggest “Welcome Home” celebration our Vietnam Veterans have ever received is both exciting and truly humbling. Imagine, all across the nation, at VA facilities large and small, on one day, employees, volunteers, and Veterans alike will take a moment to pause and say a long overdue “Thank you” to this amazing generation of men and women who once carried their nation’s burdens on their shoulders along with the cause of freedom.” On that day V. A. Secretary Bob McDonald and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will place a wreath on the elegant polished black granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. in honor of the more than 58,000 men and women who died in that war.
In the Natchez and Vidalia area there are more than 2500 veterans and it is safe to say that one third of them are Vietnam Veterans who “walk among us”. Seek them out, shake their hand, express your appreciation, and treat them to a cup of coffee or lunch. Stand with the members of the Natchez Chapter, DAR on March 29, 2016, and pause a moment during the day to remember the millions of Americans who “stood not for themselves but for our country in those troubled and turbulent times.”
Mary Willard currently serves as State Chaplain of the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.