NANTICOKE — Steve Biernacki took the opportunity Saturday to correct what he says is a misconception about the Vietnam War.
“The common myth is that the United States lost the war in Vietnam,” the Vietnam veteran said. “But the facts are that we soldiers were not defeated in Vietnam. We did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was an almost unprecedented performance.
“It sounds to me like we did a pretty good job.”
Biernacki was speaking at a ceremony at Luzerne County Community College’s Walk of Honor to mark the 50th anniversary of the war and honor Vietnam veterans.
More than 50 veterans and 100 guests turned out for the ceremony.
Among those in attendance were state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and state Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre; Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston; and Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and Councilwoman Beth Gilbert were also in attendance.
During his military career, Biernacki, the owner of Kelsey’s Restaurant in Ashley, earned multiple honors for his service, including two Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge and Vietnam Service Medal, according to Yudichak.
The entrance to the Walk of Honor was garnished with an American Flag, waving in the wind and held up by the ladders of firetrucks from Nanticoke and Hanover Township.
The ceremony was sponsored in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. The veterans in attendance received the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin and a commemorative plaque was unveiled.
“We stand here today to participate in a long overdue national ceremony to pay tribute to Vietnam veterans who served their nation with honor and distinction,” Yudichak said. “When it comes to veterans, when it comes to honoring those who have served our nation, we are not Democrats. We are not Republicans. We’re Pennsylvanians. We’re Americans.”
LCCC President Thomas Leary expressed his gratitude to the veterans by noting their historic part in the college’s history and announcing plans for a new center on campus.
“This year, we will be establishing and dedicating a veteran’s center,” he said. “I want to express our deep appreciation for your service to our country during a very challenging and difficult time.”
Leary said that one of the first organizations founded at the college was a Vietnam Veterans Club and that the school currently holds one of the highest veteran enrollment numbers in the area.
At the end of the ceremony, George said it was nice to see Vietnam veterans being honored for their service. He said that while he personally wasn’t in the war, he had many friends who were.
Kaufer said he was honored to be a part of the ceremony and to have an opportunity to honor those who have fought for their country.
“It was a beautiful ceremony. It’s nice to honor the people that were here, and to remember the ones who weren’t here,” he said.