Salute the Veterans of the Vietnam War on National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Salute the Veterans of the Vietnam War on National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Veterans of the Vietnam War and their supporters gathered to mark Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day with a ceremony on Friday, with attendees acknowledging that veterans of Vietnam have had to struggle against a harsher reception at home than veterans of other conflicts.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day is observed on March 29, the same date the last U.S. soldiers departed Vietnam in 1973. Friday’s ceremony was held in front of Fall River’s replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The Fall River memorial, in Bicentennial Park, was dedicated last spring.

The event was organized by Chapter 207 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, which is based in Westport. Veterans founded the national organization in 1985 after veterans returning from Vietnam found that they received a far cooler welcome than those who served in other wars, president of Chapter 207 Justin Latini explained.

The group’s founding principle is “never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” he said.

Mayor Paul Coogan decried the hostility Vietnam veterans faced as they returned home.

“The war was unpopular, but that transferred to the warriors. And that was a mistake,” he said. “But not in Fall River. Not today."

Gumersindo Gomez, President of the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans of America, said he and his peers responded to the public backlash they faced by working to change how veterans are treated. Their efforts to expand access to the V.A. and to recognize veterans’ contributions mean that the younger generation of veterans will have an easier time accessing the benefits they are entitled to, he said, and be welcomed home as heroes.

“We came back, they kicked us around some, but they couldn’t get us down,” he said.

“I’ve kind of put this behind me":The public is eager to punish Jasiel Correia. Law experts and a victim have another view.

Bruce Dobson, Vice President East of the Vietnam Veterans of America Massachusetts State Council and an audience member at Friday’s ceremony, said the event was a reminder that many veterans still living 50 years later are dealing with major health complications, particularly from the use of Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide that he U.S. military used as a chemical weapon in Vietnam. He himself is dealing with leukemia, Dobson said, likely as a result of his time in Vietnam.

“But it’s good to be here today,” he said.