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Recognize, Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans

By HEATHER FRENCH HENRY
Commissioner
Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs

Every Veterans Day we are reminded to recognize, thank and honor our nation’s heroes. It’s a day about honoring those military veterans in our families, at work, and in our communities. It’s also a day that serves to teach our younger generations about respecting sacrifice, service, and the price of freedom. We must do this at least once a year for many reasons, one of which is because 50 years ago we, as a nation, embarked upon a period in our history where we failed so miserably to honor and show respect to those men and women sent to battle in Vietnam upon the signing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

This year the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is keeping our promise to honor those Vietnam Veterans thru the 50th Vietnam Anniversary Commemoration.

Here in the Commonwealth we have approximately 116,000 Vietnam Veterans. About 8,000 of those are women, and about 8,000 are African-American or Hispanic. They live and work in all 120 counties. They, like many groups of veterans we have honored, are worthy of the 12-year-long Commemoration Congress ordered the Secretary of Defense to implement.

Some of the objectives of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration, which runs from 2013-2025, are:

To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.

To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces.

To pay tribute to the contributions made on the homefront by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War.

To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War.

To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.

Kentucky is proud to be an official Commemorative Partner, and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is proud to be the lead agency in fulfilling Kentucky’s responsibilities as a Commemorative Partner.

Already this year, KDVA has launched the Commonwealth’s Commemoration with an event at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Sept. 25, attended by more than 500 Vietnam Veterans, family and friends.  We have also recognized Vietnam Veterans at the UK Heroes Day football game Oct. 11.

KDVA will continue to publicize the Commemoration throughout the next decade, but we can’t do it alone.

We need every Kentuckian to find ways to recognize, thank and honor the Vietnam Veterans in your communities. You don’t have to put on a huge event, though that would be great if you do. What’s important is that you make sure your Vietnam Veterans get the recognition and thanks they have earned, and that people in your community – especially young people – know those veterans and how they honorably served this country.

KDVA encourages communities, organizations and businesses throughout the Commonwealth to become Commemorative Partners, joining more than 120 Kentucky groups in pledging to recognize, thank and honor Vietnam Veterans throughout the Commemoration.

Find more information about the Commemoration at www.vietnamwar50th.com, and becoming a Commemorative Partner at www.vietnamwar50th.com/commemorative_partners.