Veterans honored in pinning ceremony on Vietnam Veterans Day

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter
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SALEM (WSLS10)-- Vietnam Veterans will be honored at a special pinning ceremony tonight in honor of Vietnam Veterans Day. On March 29, 1973, the last combat soldiers left Vietnam and one year later, March 29 was declared Vietnam Veterans Day by President Richard Nixon.

Tonight a big commemoration ceremony will take place at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center to thank and honor the men and women who served our country during the Vietnam War era. Every veteran who served on active duty between November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 is invited, regardless of where they were stationed.

This is one of several events in our area that's been held over the past few years in an effort to give out the commemorative lapel pins. Every veteran that served during that time period is eligible to receive one of the pins as a thank you from our community and the nation. Today's ceremony is hosted by the Salem VA Medical Center and the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Ceremonies like this are being held all over the nation today, to thank and honor a group of veterans who didn't always get the respect they deserved.

"Fifty years ago, when the Vietnam Era Veteran came home, regardless of whether they served in the country, in theater or just served during that period, they weren't treated in the best fashion and they certainly weren't welcomed home," says Col. (R) John Miller, President of the local Association of the U.S. Army. "I think there's an effort now to try and correct that at the national level and we want to do our part at the local level as well."

On the front of the pin is an eagle and markers to represent all six of the allies involved in the conflict. The back of the pin has a special note, reading: "A grateful nation thanks and honors you."

"There are 7.2 million living Vietnam Veterans in the United States and the intent is to give each of them one of these lapel pins," says Miller.

There are more than 400 Vietnam Era Veterans living in our area, and many of them have still not received their pin.

Tonight's ceremony begins at 6 p.m. at the Salem VA Medical Center Auditorium in Building 5. There's no need to preregister or sign up if you'd like to attend.

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