Ceremony honors local Vietnam veterans

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After returning home from the unpopular Vietnam War, servicemen and women were sometimes subjected to slurs and protests. In an effort to properly thank and honor local veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during that time, the Mary Patton Chapter National Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) joined other organizations across the country in recognizing these veterans as part of a 50th anniversary commemoration of the war.

The anniversary is “a long overdue opportunity to honor our 7.2 million living Vietnam veterans and the 9 million families of those of us who served from November 1955 to May 1975 …,”  said Bob McDonald, U.S. secretary of Veteran Affairs, in a commemorative video message this year.

In a proclamation issued by President Barack Obama on May 28, 2012, the federal government required more than 8,000 organizations, at the state and local level, to carry out the 13-year program.

A portion of the proclamation stated: “In recognition of a chapter in our Nation’s history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country’s call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return. Beginning on Memorial Day 2012, the Federal Government will partner with local governments, private organizations, and communities across America to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War … While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly benefiting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor. “

More than 20 veterans participated in Tuesday’s ceremony as JROTC members led the pledge which was followed by prayer from Rev. Garland E. James.

Laura Tracy, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Erwin and Navy veteran, was the special guest speaker for the event and talked about growing up during the war.

Near the end of the ceremony, veterans who served from 1955 to 1975 were asked to come forward to receive a special lapel pin, that includes an eagle’s head to signify courage, stripes and six stars to remember the allies and events during the war.

Veterans honored during the event included: Phillip Edney, Jesse Carl Williams, Thomas Reeves, Allen Rogers, Rusty Pool, Jack Gouge, Gordon Aiton, R.O. Smith, Bobby Ray, Stanley Edwards, Robert  DeWolf II, James Tipton, E.L. Wheeler, Laura Tracy, Byron Beard, Coy Lee Harris, Earl Booth, RJ Davis, John Gouge, James Presnell, Charles Harris, Dennis Edney, Raymond Cooper, James Tilson, Charles Young Jr. and Jack Edwards.

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