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COLUMN: March 29th National Vietnam War Veterans Day

President Trump signed the National Vietnam War Veterans Day Act on March 29, 2017. The bill provides for the US flag to be flown on a special day of recognition honoring those that served in the Vietnam War, their own Vietnam War Veterans Day.

President Trump signed the National Vietnam War Veterans Day Act on March 29, 2017. The bill provides for the US flag to be flown on a special day of recognition honoring those that served in the Vietnam War, their own Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day was first celebrated March 29, 1974 after President Nixon issued a declaration on February 6, 1974 to honor Vietnam Veterans. He chose that date because the last remaining American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam on March 29, 1973 as the last POWs returned home. 45 of the 50 states and Puerto Rico have celebrated it over the past years, some on March 29th and other states on March 30th.

Although the US did not deploy full combat units to Vietnam until 1965, US troops were in harm's way in Vietnam as early as 1955. The US Department of Defense recognizes US involvement in the Vietnam War from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Eight million US troops served all over the world during the Vietnam War, with more than 58,000 Americans killed. As of May, 2017 the list of names on the Vietnam Wall Memorial totaled 58,318; but that total is not an accurate account as some families wanted the names of their deceased Vietnam vets omitted from The Wall.

In President Barack Obama's Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamation on March 29, 2012, President Obama referred to Vietnam as America's most challenging war, an adjective it earned for many reasons. He stated: "Operation Chopper marked America's first combat mission against the Viet Cong, and the beginning of one of our longest and most challenging wars. Through more than a decade of conflict that tested the fabric of our Nation, the service of our men and women in uniform stood true." He also spoke of their bravery and selflessness; "It is a story of patriots who braved the line of fire, who cast themselves into harm's way to save a friend, who fought hour after hour, day after day to preserve the liberties we hold dear."

They followed orders, did their job, and returned home to a country in political turmoil. There were no ticker-tape parades, no flags waving, and no bands playing to welcome our boys home. Instead they were treated with disrespect by many Americans, Americans who blamed them for the tragic events in Vietnam; certainly not the homecoming they expected. Our Vietnam veterans didn't want what happened to them to happen to future service men and women, and therefore have been a great force behind the respect given to today's veterans. For this, we say thank you. To all our Vietnam veterans, thank you for your service and "Welcome Home." To those men and women who didn't come home from Vietnam, "Thank you for your sacrifice!"

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"Our Nation stands stronger for their service, and on Vietnam Veterans Day we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude." President Barack Obama

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