A transcript of todays service:
Welcome to Nahant’s service recognizing National Vietnam War Veterans Day. On this day we pay homage to the brave men and women who served during the Vietnam War. A war whose dates are recognized as November 1, 1955 through May 15, 1975.
November 1, 1955 was selected to coincide with the official designation of Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam (MAAG-V); while May 15, 1975 marks the end of the battle precipitated by the seizure of the SS Mayaguez.
March 29th is a fitting choice for a day honoring Vietnam veterans. It was chosen to be observed in perpetuity as March 29, 1973 was the day United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam was disestablished and also the day the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam.
Today we stand at the memorial of Marine LCPL Richard R. Davis who was lost on July 7, 1967. We remember him along with Air Force Major James A. Magnusson, Jr. lost April 4, 1965 as well as Marine Private First Class David A. Bingham lost January 22, 1968. Each of these men were lost in Vietnam under combat conditions. Each of these men have Nahant roots and families and we recognize their lingering pain and loss.
(Wreath laying at the memorial)
May we please pause for a moment of silence for these, and all men lost during the war…Thank you.
While we stand here today, remembering these three men most especially, we also recognize and honor all our Vietnam War veterans. We make no distinction between veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and none could self-determine where they would serve.
Nahant has a good many Vietnam Veterans and I’d like to ask those of you in attendance, whether an American Legion Member or not to please raise your hand if you served during the Vietnam War.
Thank you all for your service and we honor you today!
We know the Vietnam War came and went leaving behind a great deal of scars on the history of our country. It wasn’t because of the men and women who selflessly left the safety of their homes to fight the war, but rather how they were treated when they came home. Words such as blame, disparage, dishonor, and shame can be used to describe how Americans at home treated the courageous men and women who fought in Vietnam. You our friends and comrades put on a uniform, wore our flag on your arm, traveled across the globe in an attempt, in part, to stop the spread of communism and those who made it home were denigrated and vilified.
You should have been honored, celebrated, and praised for your service and sacrifice. You were not. America failed you, leaving a dark stain in our history. National Vietnam War Veterans Day now exists to make sure this never happens again.
Regardless of how you, our Vietnam Veterans, were treated when you stepped off the airplane and back on American soil, you stood strong for your country never turning your back. Even though many of you ended your service in uniform, you never stopped serving your country. Your careers took you down different paths of fire fighters, police officers, civic leaders and public servants, nurses, doctors, and teachers while others went on to create companies that to this day are changing the world.
For some of you, a life of military service was your calling. You learned from your experiences and were there to shape, train and lead the young who would become the honorable service men and women of today just as you were honorable service men and women of yesterday.
The Vietnam War generation came from every walk of life and served with as much patriotism, integrity and dignity as the war generations who came before them. Most chose to go saying, “Send me.” Others were drafted and carried the weight and worry of the world on their shoulders and did their duty. To every one of these brave souls we say, “Thank you for bravely doing what you were called to do so we can safely do what we are free to do.”
Our Vietnam Veterans have taken care of one another when others didn’t understand their pain or turned a blind eye to it. They made sure they cared for those who would accept the call of duty to their country. This generation had a new task; they resolved to make certain today’s service members would receive what they did not… support, respect, and appreciation. Our Vietnam veterans stand watch at our airports to greet our returning troops with a warm handshake, support and a “thank you.” Because of our Vietnam Veterans, and the lessons we have learned from them, communities across our great country have warmly welcomed home our forces from overseas.
As the father of an Afghanistan and Iraq War Veteran, I can attest to the support that you and your comrades provided my son an infantryman upon his return. A war weary Marine who needed the support that you could give, and that I could not. I thank you for that!
The statistics of the Vietnam War are staggering. More than 9 Million served during this time and of the 2,700,000 sent to the war zone, 300,000 were wounded, 75,000 of them permanently disabled. And 1,200 remain missing and unaccounted for. We have only to look at the 58,318 names etched on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. to realize the great cost suffered by so many families.
For those of you who lost loved ones or friends during the Vietnam War, or in the years that have passed since, or who’s loved one was listed as Missing in Action and not yet returned, it is our hope that this day of celebrating and honoring your Vietnam Veterans will bring comfort and encouragement to you as their service and sacrifice is recognized and their memory honored.
So again, to you, the men and women here who served in Vietnam, Thank You and Welcome home!
Bob Fields, Commander
Nahant American Legion Post 215
Much of the basis for this service was from an article written by Jennifer Mott, President, Saranac Lake VFW Auxiliary Post 3357. The article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Vietnam War Veterans Day a chance to thank and honor those who served