Save the Date: Kowall and Nofs announce Hastings event honoring Vietnam era veterans

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Mike Nofs on Wednesday announced they are sponsoring a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony on Saturday, June 10 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Nofs, R-Battle Creek, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Hastings in conjunction with the Barry County Honor Guard, American Legion Post 484 Hickory Corners, American Legion Post 140 Middleville, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 7 Battle Creek, Military Order of the Purple Heart USA Chapter 110, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4461 Lake Odessa, and American Legion Riders Post 45.

The ceremony will give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans, Gold Star Mothers and their families. The lawmakers encourage all interested residents and veterans to join them in paying tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at the Barry Expo Center Exhibition Hall (home of the Barry County Fair), 1350 M-37, in Hastings. The guest speaker will be Brig. Gen. Michael A. Stone, assistant adjutant general for installations for the Michigan Army National Guard and deputy director, Michigan Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.

RSVP to Barry County American Legion Commander Jim Gross at 616-328-1343 or by email at j.gross13@yahoo.com.

Kowall and Nofs will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin is significant, Kowall said.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense, and then formally launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events for the veterans and their families.

“Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life,” Kowall said. “This ceremony is a way to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Nofs agreed.

“I’m honored and privileged to be able to present these Vietnam veterans with these Commemorative Lapel Pins,” Nofs said. “It’s a small token of our gratitude and appreciation for their sacrifice. That sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Kowall has held numerous events, in both Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including VFW/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

Any Gold Star Mothers or Gold Star Wives of the Vietnam era who would like to receive an “In Memory Of” pin at a future lapel pinning ceremony should contact Lynn O’Brien in advance of the ceremony at 517-373-0563.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.