Fifty years is long enough. It has been 50 years since the Vietnam War has ended and still there have been no ticker tape parades, no grand welcome home for the returning soldiers.
But the Clark County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution wanted to see that soldiers who returned home, and those who did not, got the recognition they deserve.
On Saturday, March 17th the Clark County Chapter held a reception at the Care Building in Kahoka to greet veterans and family members who were involved in the Vietnam War. The purpose for the reception was to honor the Vietnam veterans for the service to their county.
The ceremony has been in the planning stages for a couple years now and this being our chapter’s first ceremony we wanted it to be special and let each of the veterans know that we are so thankful for their service to their country.
Command Sargent Major, Paul Brotherton posted the colors and chapter member Leah Sayre played the National Anthem on her flute. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Mr. Brotherton and Pastor Shawn McAfee gave an opening prayer. Mr. Brotherton gave an explanation of the POW/MIA memorial on display explaining each of the items and why they were displayed. A moment of silence was observed for those veterans we have lost. Chapter member Caren Whitehead welcomed guests and provided information to the guests about the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Clark County chapter.
The Clark County chapter became part of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration partner on August 21, 2015. The Commemoration is a national commemoration that was authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense and launched by the President. In 2007, the 110th Congress incorporated language in House Resolution 4986 authorizing the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
The Commemoration began with the Presidential inaugural event at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial also known as “The Wall” in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is about thanking and honoring our nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. Congress outlined a total of five objectives for the Vietnam War Commemoration, and the primary objective is to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families on behalf of the nation for their service and sacrifice. The four remaining objectives highlight the service of our Armed Forces and support organizations during the war; pay tribute to wartime contributions at home by American citizens; highlight technology, science and medical advances made during the war; and recognize contributions by our allies.
The purpose of this commemoration, November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 is the period being utilized to recognize the service and sacrifice to those who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. November 1, 1955 was selected to coincide with the official designation of Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam, and May 15, 1975 marks the end of the battle precipitated by the seizure of the SS Mayaguez. The Commemoration honors all United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time between November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
Veterans were asked to call a chapter member and register prior to ceremony. Chapter regent, Mitzie Pitford called each Vietnam veteran up and presented them with a certificate in recognition of Valor, Service, and Sacrifice during the Vietnam War. Chapter Chaplin, Lois Humes presented each veteran with a lapel pin and other chapter members presented the veterans with other mementos. After all veterans present were honored the family members of veterans who are no longer living were honored and received a certificate, family member pin and other mementos.
Carlos Fernandez with WGEM and the Great River Honor Flight was the guest speaker. He provided information and stories about the Honor Flight encouraging all veterans to sign up for the trip to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorial.
Shawn McAfee gave a blessing and our first ceremony was more than I could have ever expected with all the emotions, thankfulness, gratitude, support and love for our veterans. A group picture was taken, refreshments served, everyone visited and told stories. The Clark County Chapter honored 43 Vietnam Veterans and 10 Vietnam Veterans who were represented by family members.
Our chapter is planning another ceremony for Clark County Vietnam veterans who were not able to attend and a ceremony for Lewis County Vietnam veterans at a later date. If you are a Vietnam veteran who served during the time period please contact Mitzie Pitford at 660-341-9414 so we can put you on our list to honor you at our next ceremony. If you do not want to attend a ceremony we still want to honor you and can make arrangements to do so.
I want to say a special thank you to Mr. Paul Brotherton for all his help, knowledge and dedication to helping us make our ceremony a successful one. Thank you to Shawn McAfee, the Clark County Sheriff Department, and everyone who helped make this day special for our Vietnam Veterans.
The event was live streamed on NEMOnews.net. Watch it below.