Vietnam War veterans receive their day in Le Roy ceremony
Apr 01 2018 by Lorena Waters
A law signed past year officially made March 29 National Vietnam Veterans Day to commemorate Vietnam veterans and the sacrifices they made.
Rick Harris, who served in the Vietnam War in the United States Marine Corps, and who is the head of the Disabled American Veterans, spoke to those gathered Wednesday, which included a number of Vietnam veterans.
For Vietnam veteran Bob Wallace, this year was a chance to say thank you to his comrades.
The veterans marched together to the Vietnam War Memorial at the York County Fairgrounds. "But it truly is because of your service and sacrifice and making sure that we didn't get the same stuff that you got that I'm able to stand here today and say 'thank you'".
The VA has been in the headlines in recent days with President Trump firing his national VA Secretary David Shulkin, following allegations of improper spending. "I can't imagine what it was like for these guys", he said. "I was getting on the plane at the airport there, and young people were yelling dirty things like "baby killer" and stuff like that".
"We are there for all veterans - not just our own", he said.
More than 165,000 Wisconsinites served in the Vietnam War, with 1,239 paying the ultimate sacrifice.
Kurt Jackson, director of the Jasper County Veterans Affairs Office, said holding the memorial events can be tough, many Vietnam veterans aren't interested in reliving the war or being recognized for their service, they'd rather just forget.
Aaron Olson, an Army National Guard veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he attended the ceremony Thursday in honor of his father-in-law Floyd Pesicka who served in Vietnam.
Thousands of our veterans are honored during the first celebration of our country's newly established National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
And he apologized for the sometimes hostile reception many received when they returned home from that war.
Throughout the event a band made up of veterans filled the auditorium with music, including the song "God Bless the U.S.A".
For Burnett, the event was a success but she said veterans deserve more.
During the ceremony, the names of Ulster County's fallen Vietnam War veterans were read aloud and a bell was rung in honor of each.
"I have been walking around all these years saying that I am a veteran, but I really don't know what the word means", said Becker.
He said it's too late for any ceremony or honor to make any difference to what he experienced back then and still feels today.