Tucson Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - We are in the middle of a 13-year-long "Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War," an event proclaimed by President Obama.
The Tucson Vet Center hosted a ceremony Friday to honor those who served.
The Vietnam War era was a time of turmoil in the United States. The war was unpopular and some Americans took it out on the men and women coming home.
The veterans often were not appreciated, not honored, not thanked for their service and their sacrifice.
"It hasn't been until recently that I even acknowledged to anyone that I was a Vietnam veteran," said Vietnam War Women's Army Corps Veteran Cora Olivas.
Things have changed.
Vietnam veterans and their families now are getting the recognition they deserve.
"I think this is important and it's a big part of the healing for Vietnam veterans," Olivas said.
"The public, more or less, accepts me as a Vietnam vet. It wasn't like when I first got out," said Vietnam War Army Veteran Jose Rivera.
Not only are the veterans being recognized, but what they went through has changed the way all active military and veterans are treated. For many veterans, it has been a long road home through painful times.
"I still have a lot of resentment. And I'm just now allowing myself to heal form that. And the only thing that I can hold on to is that we acknowledge each other, and we set the tone for these young men and women that are coming back from wars and conflicts," said Vietnam War Marine Corps Veteran Peter Starks. "I'm glad that they've come around to honor the young men and women that are coming home now because of us, because of the way we were treated."
"The recognition, like I say we're getting now, it helps out a lot. For me it is beneficial to make some kind of closure," said Vietnam War Army Veteran Valentino Cruz.
Not only are the veterans being recognized, but what they went through has changed the way all active duty military and veterans are treated.
"For us, we fought for our brothers and we fought for the people present at the time. And I am just happy and joyful that my grandson can come home from serving and be honored as we should have," said Vietnam War Marine Corps Veteran Henry Johnson.
The commemoration is about Vietnam veterans who are still with us, and those who sacrificed all.
"It's not about me. It's about them because they're the ones who are not here with us," said Vietnam War Army Veteran Esteban T. Vega
There are 58,307 names on The Wall, as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. is known.
The average age of the fallen whose names appear on The Wall is 23.
There are more than seven million living Vietnam War veterans.
The commemoration will continue through Veterans Day of 2025 as America continues to say, "Welcome home," to Vietnam War Veterans.
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