Vietnam War Veterans Day to be marked March 29
Members of the community can pay their respect and homage to those who served in the Vietnam War Wednesday at Eco Park.
Coinciding with National Vietnam War Veterans Day, local Chapter 594 of the Vietnam Veterans of America will recognize and remember their comrades in a ceremony starting at noon.
The event will take place in front of the Southwest Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution will present chapter members with commemorative 50-year pins and certificates.
“The ceremony is for remembering those that didn’t make it home, and those that made it home, but for whatever reason are not the same as when they left. And for anyone that was really there to help,” said Vietnam veteran and Secretary/Treasurer for the chapter Stuart Berman.
Chapter 594 of the VVA is made up of more than 50 local Vietnam veterans who now call Southwest Florida home. A light lunch is available for members starting at 11:30, and the ceremony should conclude around 1 p.m.
Berman, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, said the day is all about remembering and acknowledging all of the sacrifices made by so many throughout the era. Originally from New York, Berman left the northeast for Vietnam in September of 1965 and returned in April of ’66. His duties included providing plane guard for the U.S.S. Enterprise (an aircraft carrier), assisting with any planes that may have overshot the landing. His team also patrolled the South China Seas and the Gulf of Tonkan, and provided fire support as needed.
“The holiday commemorates the hardships suffered and sacrifices made by 9 million Americans during the Vietnam War,” he said. “The holiday does not only honor the former soldiers, but also their families who supported them before and after the war.”
Vietnam Veterans Day comes as the result of the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition act signed into law in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump, designating March 29 of each year to honor those who served. On March 29 of 1973, the final combat troops in Vietnam were withdrawn and the last prisoners of war held in North Vietnam came home to American soil. According to the American Legion, of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, fewer than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age approximated to be 60.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that today there are more than 7 million U.S. Vietnam veterans living in America and abroad, along with 10 million families of those who served during this timeframe.
Many Vietnam War veterans returned home to unfavorable criticism from the public, and countless had to deal with health deterioration due to Agent Orange. Exposure to the chemical has resulted in heart disease and failure, lung cancer, kidney failure, or COPD related disorders.
“(Veterans) still have issues, and it’s important to take care of these issues,” Berman said.
The Southwest Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial is at Four Mile Cove Ecological Park at 2500 Southeast 24th St. If the weather is warm, the ceremony will be held under the pavilion on site.
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