Forty years after our troops left Vietnam, the State of Ohio is officially welcoming them home with a special day to honor their service and sacrifice. The state’s first “Vietnam Veterans Day” is today.
A half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is on display at the Ohio History Center. The center, near the state fairgrounds, has been hosting panel discussions about the war experience since Tuesday.
The designation of March 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day was signed into law last March 30. “The guys I talk to think this day is long overdue,” said Thomas Burke, president of Vietnam Veterans of America, Buckeye State Council.
Ohio’s Vietnam veterans began lobbying for a day in 2009. March 29, 1973, was the date that American troops left Vietnam, so March 29 seemed fitting.
Some veterans felt that those from Vietnam shouldn’t be singled out with their own commemoration. Others were fine with the concept but not with the date chosen. On another March 29, in 1971, Lt. William Calley Jr. was convicted in the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians.
The proposal idled until last year, when retired Air Force Col. Thomas N. Moe, director of Ohio’s Department of Veterans Services and a prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam, testified in front of Ohio senators that the date didn’t matter but recognition did.
The date became March 30 in the law.
Moe said last week that, as a POW, he was appreciated when he returned home. He knows that other veterans weren’t.
“I feel an obligation to share that feeling of welcome with my fellow Vietnam vets,” Moe said. The slogan for this year’s commemoration is “Welcome Home; Remember the Fallen.”
The Ohio Department of Veterans Services and the Vietnam Veterans of America, Buckeye State Council, are the main organizers. Much of the cost has been underwritten by the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition.
In addition to the events at the Ohio History Center, Vietnam exhibits will be on display at the Statehouse Downtown and at Motts Military Museum in Groveport.
Moe said he wasn’t sure that future years would bring such a large commemoration. But this is the first Ohio Vietnam Veterans Day, and it’s the 40th anniversary of the last troops’ return from the war.
O.K., America, let's get it together. If Ohio can see the importance of finally recognizing these veterans, so can the rest of the country!
Live Long and Prosper...