Our veterans answered our country's call and served with honor, and on March 29, 1973, the last of our troops left Vietnam
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 29, 2012, as Vietnam Veterans Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Never underestimate what a group of Vietnam era veterans and retired military can get accomplished. In less than three months, the small group of veterans formed a committee to establish “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” not only in their hometown of Huntsville but throughout the entire state of Alabama. They also joined efforts to establish their newly formed organization, The North Alabama Vietnam Veterans of America (later to be chartered by the VVA as Chapter 1067 Huntsville, AL). Under the leadership of CW4 Warren Harmon and CSM Billy Prysock the committee sought assistance from their local and state government leadership. A proclamation was drafted and presented to Mayor Tommy Battle, Huntsville; Mayor Paul Finley, Madison, and Mike Gillespie, Madison County Chairman who collaboratively pronounced March 29, 2012 at “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Soon, Senator Bill Holztclaw and Representative Howard Sanderford introduced Resolutions in the Alabama Senate and House declaring March 29th as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day throughout the State of Alabama. Finally, on March 21, Governor Robert Bentley signed a similar proclamation supporting “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” to be celebrated Statewide on March 29th.
The committee met on a weekly basis coordinating and planning the First Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans celebration, which was held on March 29th at the Madison County Veteran’s Memorial in downtown Huntsville, AL. It is estimated that over 900 people attended the event which included the Army Material Command (AMC) Band, Alabama Patriot Riders, Laying of the Wreath, Posting of the Colors by Kilo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines Huntsville Color Guard and taps, patriotic music and speeches by area dignitaries and local leaders.
According to organizers, the small group, of approximately ten, were not only able to get the March 29th “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” celebration established, they also began an aggressive membership drive to recruit veterans into their newly formed organization. Membership Chair Richard Knight, began following leads and meeting with veterans throughout Madison County inviting them to join the Vietnam Veterans of America organization. Within two months over 40 memberships have been obtained and the group is still growing. The Huntsville Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America held their first meeting on April 12 at the VFW Post 2702 building with approximately forty Vietnam Veterans in attendance.
And the story continues year after year as we observe the ending of a very long and controversial conflict.
Home of Medal of Honor Recipient Col Leo K. Thorsness
Sound track from "Good Morning Vietnam" for your enjoyment
Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1067