Save the Date: Lawmakers announce Grand Rapids event honoring Vietnam era veterans

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, Sen. Dave Hildenbrand and Sen. Pete MacGregor on Thursday announced they are sponsoring a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony on Saturday, March 4 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

The legislators are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Grand Rapids to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. They 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 is made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration and hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3946 and American Legion posts 2, 258 and 356. It will be held at noon on Saturday, March 4, at the American Legion Boat and Canoe Club, 401 N. Park St. NE, in Grand Rapids.

Those who are interested in attending should RSVP to American Legion Post 356 Commander Fred Chambers at 616-443-7630 or skysoldger@aol.com.

The lawmakers 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.

“The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “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 that thank and honor 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.”

Hildenbrand agreed.

“Those who serve in our military make unimaginable sacrifices on a daily basis,” said Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. “Many Vietnam veterans faced criticism from their fellow Americans when they returned home and never received the thanks they deserved. Our goal is to show them that they were not forgotten and that we appreciate their service to our country.”

MacGregor said he is looking forward to the event.

“Michiganders care deeply and have the utmost respect for our military veterans,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Unfortunately, those sentiments were not always communicated during the Vietnam era. It is fitting then, that during this 50th anniversary of that conflict, we make the time to publicly thank and commemorate the service and selfless sacrifices of those brave veterans who served during that time.”

Kowall has held numerous events, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/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.

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