When the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s, many Vietnam-era veterans were treated badly upon their return to American soil.
But on Friday — the day before the 41st anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on March 29, 1973 when the last United States troops left South Vietnam — Palestine officials and veterans' groups gave local Vietnam veterans a warm welcome during a special “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” event.
More than 140 people attended the event, which included a ceremony and luncheon at Dogwood Trails Assisted Living & Memory Care.
The patriotic ceremony was punctuated by a new honor guard made up of members of the Palestine Police Department and Palestine Fire Department, led by Police Chief Robert Herbert, suited in their dress blues.
Participating organizations were the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 led by Commander Allan Ayo, American Legion led by Commander Don Derby, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 63 by Commander Mike Hodgson, Veterans of Foreign Wars 8907 led by Commander Chuck Folsom, VFW 8924 led by Commander John Campbell and VFW 5872 Fairfield Commander Roger Brooks.
The honor guard presented a United States flag to Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 President Allan Ayo — however, the flag is meant for all local Vietnam veterans.
“I want to thank all Vietnam veterans, the women and men who served our country. We at the VVA Chapter 991 may be the custodial guardian of this flag which will be permanently displayed at the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Hall, but please remember this belongs to all of you, and mostly to our brothers and sisters who fought under our flag and didn't come home,” Ayo said.
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor expressed his gratitude to the Vietnam veterans during the ceremony.
“It is truly an honor to stand among American heroes,” Taylor said, noting he was the stepson of a Vietnam veteran.