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Letter: Welcome Vietnam vets home

On Saturday at 2 p.m. the state will officially recognize the service of its Vietnam veterans with a Welcome Home ceremony at the Army Aviation Flight Facility on Regional Drive in Concord.

A year ago, on the war’s 50th anniversary, the Legislature passed a law marking March 30 as the day to honor Vietnam veterans.

Why? The men and women who served in Vietnam were never properly thanked. They never received a homecoming. There were no ceremonies or parades. There were no banners hanging from highway overpasses. No police escorts. They were shunned from the moment they touched down on American soil. Instead of being embraced at terminals across the country, many of our warriors slipped into a bathroom to change out of their uniform. As a nation, we treated them as outcasts.

Now in their 60s and 70s, those same veterans swore that the next generation of war heroes coming home would receive the gratitude they deserved, from Desert Storm to Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

Never again, would our nation treat its returning veterans so badly. Well, they delivered on their promise.

Now it’s our turn to show them the same respect and gratitude they have so justifiably earned. Saturday’s ceremony is an opportunity for all of us to say, “Thank you, job well done.” It is an opportunity for us to pay a debt that is 40 years overdue, and an essential step toward healing a national wound.

I strongly encourage you to consider the significance of what your attendance will mean to our Vietnam veterans. For if not us, then who? If not now, then when? Please join me, Gov. Maggie Hassan and our congressional delegation in welcoming home our Vietnam veterans.

WILLIAM N. REDDEL III

Concord

(The writer is adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard.)

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