The Remembrance of Heroism Through Sacrifice
- May 24, 2023
The men and women who fought and died in the Vietnam War are probably the most underappreciated and underrecognized of American veterans. Largely because they were involved in the most controversial war in American history. In a bid to reverse the injustice done to these veterans, a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day was established. Vietnam Veteran
The men and women who fought and died in the Vietnam War are probably the most underappreciated and underrecognized of American veterans. Largely because they were involved in the most controversial war in American history. In a bid to reverse the injustice done to these veterans, a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day was established.
Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day will be commemorated on March 29, 2023. This day was selected in large part because on that day 50 years ago, March 29, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, and some of the last U.S. prisoners held by the North Vietnamese were released. Vietnam War Veterans Day was first observed as a one-time occasion on March 29, 2012, when President Barack Obama issued a proclamation calling on “all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”
The day was then introduced as an annual event in 2017 when President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017.
According to Lycoming County Veterans Affairs Director Mike McMunn, himself a Vietnam Veteran, due to the lack of accurate records, it is not possible to know how many men and women from Lycoming County served during the Vietnam War, but needless to say, it was in the tens of thousands. During that period, the draft was in effect, so men either enlisted or were drafted.
Forty-three Lycoming County men died during the war, including one who is listed as “missing in action – body not recovered.” That man was Major James M. Gehrig, a B-52 pilot whose aircraft crashed in the South China Sea following a mid-air collision.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has issued a formal proclamation designating March 29 as Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day, and the Lycoming County Commissioners are also planning to issue a proclamation.
McMunn, having served as an Army advisor with the South Vietnamese Army, recounts serving with thousands of individuals whose lives were interrupted by the war taking place halfway around the world in a place most had never heard of. Mike states that he is proud of his service and that of all who served.
“The residuals of the war are seen every day in the Veterans Affairs office where veterans apply for compensation for their service-connected disabilities. Men and women regularly file for benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, disabilities related to the effects of Agent Orange, and the residuals of combat injuries. Every day is Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day in the Veterans Affairs office,” McMunn told Webb Weekly.
When March 29 comes around, remember and honor these underappreciated veterans of an unpopular war who just as much gave “the last full measure of devotion” as those of any other American war.