Vets get overdue welcome home Saturday

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Marshall County veterans of Vietnam will get what some feel is a long overdue welcome home on Saturday at Rock Creek Park.

The official Welcome Home ceremony is part of the nation’s observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“We want to recognize all of these veterans honorably and do what’s right by them,” said Larry McKnight, one of the organizers of the event.

This ceremony is one of thousands being held across the nation to make sure that these veterans, whose service was not always honored at the time, are recognized.

President Barack Obama signed a presidential proclamation in 2012 stating that the anniversary period of the conflict would run from Memorial Day in 2012 to Veteran’s Day in 2025, mirroring the period of U.S. involvement in hostilities.

Organizers applied to be and were recognized as an official commemoration partner in the Department of Defense’s United States Vietnam War Commemoration.

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday at Rock Creek Park. Refreshments will be served and there will be plenty of time for visiting, said McKnight.

“A lot of these guys are really excited by it,” said McKnight.

Tennessee Commissioner of Veterans Services Many Bears Grinder will speak at the event.

“We want to have a little formality to it,” said McKnight.

Each vet will receive an official lapel pin signifying their service as well as a presidential proclamation recognizing their service.

The event will also include a table of remembrance, honoring Marshall County residents who died during the war or veterans of the conflict who have passed away since.

Eligibility is open to any active duty veteran who served from 1955, the first establishment of military advisors in Vietnam, to 1975, whether or not their service included time in Southeast Asia.

McKnight said that the local organizers were working “aggressively” trying to contact eligible county veterans.

As of Monday, he said they had a list of 115 veterans and were still discovering more.

McKnight urged any veterans or family members of living or deceased veterans to contact him at 931-808-0676 or at L1321@bellsouth.net to be included.

McKnight said that they would like to use this event as a springboard for a regular, annual recognition.

He also added that the Department of Defense was planning a similar recognition for Korean War era veterans around Veterans Day this year.