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Local Vietnam Veterans honored in ceremony

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the last American soldiers leaving Vietnam after a 20-year occupation there in conflict with North Vietnam and China, the Daughters of the American Revolution and West Tennessee Veterans Coalition want to make sure to keep the memory of the soldiers who served and their sacrifice alive.

That’s why the VFW Post 6496 in Jackson was the site of the commemoration of Vietnam Veterans’ Day on March 29.

“It’s so important that we honor these men and women who served because the Vietnam conflict was one that a lot of Americans didn’t agree with,” said Jackie Utley, the president of the local veterans’ coalition. “And when our soldiers came home from service, they were the ones whom a lot of citizens took it out on when they expressed their disagreement.

“Our soldiers weren’t treated the right way, and now nearly 50 years after we pulled out of Vietnam, we want to tell these soldiers welcome home and let them know they’re appreciated as they should’ve been back then.”

President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to Vietnam in 1955, and they stayed there until 1975 when U.S. forces decided to pull out.

March 29 is recognized as Vietnam Veterans’ Day because that was the day in 1975 when the last American boots on the ground shipped out and headed home.

On Wednesday of last week, a table was set in the middle of the main room at the VFW with five chairs set up around it folded and leaning against the table. In front of each chair was a place setting for a meal and a hat representing each branch of the U.S. military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

The chairs represented those soldiers in each branch that didn’t return home because they died on the field of battle in Vietnam.

After a special ceremony commemorating the table, Utley issued Vietnam Veterans’ commemorative pins to a few present soldiers who hadn’t received them yet, welcoming them home and thanking them for their service.

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger and Madison County Mayor A.J. Massey read proclamations thanking the veterans for their service as well.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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