Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day with everyone encouraged to fly flags in honor of the men and women who served in the nation’s most unpopular war.
Over 3-million Americans served there between 1959 and 1973, the vast majority after 1964, with more than 58,000 killed.
On this date in 1973, the last U-S troops withdrew from Vietnam under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. The only military presence remaining until the fall of Saigon a little over 2 years later were connected with the U-S embassy personnel and support staff
Today’s largest observance is at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. This year marks the 40th anniversary of its iconic Wall, with construction starting March 26, 1982, and the memorial opening 8 months later on Nov 13.
In many parts of the country, it’s also Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Because the country was so divided by it at the time, no homecoming ceremonies were held for those who served. Many were met with jeers and some with physical violence.
A national effort began a few years ago to belatedly recognize them, and South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem issued a statewide proclamation for Welcome Home Day this year. More than 27,000 South Dakotans served in Vietnam and 210 were killed.
Fall River County and Hot Springs, which proclaims itself as the state’s Veterans Town, both issued similar local proclamations.
The city proclamation was issued at last week’s council meeting with 16 area Vietnam veterans present and receiving a standing ovation. Mayor Bob Nelson personally thanked each of them for their service some 5 decades ago.
Hot Springs is holding a free spaghetti dinner tonight at 7:00 at the American Legion to celebrate Vietnam War veterans and their service. Everyone is invited with free will donations from non-veterans welcomed.