Welcome Home Vietnam Vets Celebration Planned
A major “Welcome Home Vietnam Vets” event is being planned for Saturday, March 31, in Rector.
Vietnam-era veterans from throughout the region are invited to Rector to participate in a parade, special afternoon program and an evening concert.
The event is in recognition of an act by the U.S. Congress designating March 29 as National Vietnam Veterans Day.
The last U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam 44 years ago. Due to the unpopularity of the war, some veterans returning home did not receive proper support or gratitude for their service.
“Some of them were actually treated quite poorly,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, one of the sponsors of the bipartisan bill. “And that was a tragic period in our history driven by people’s perceptions of the war. Fortunately, that, I think, is behind us now. And I hope and I believe we’ve gotten to a place where the American people realize how much we really should be grateful to the men and women who served this country in Vietnam during that very, very difficult time.”
Some 2.7 million veterans served in Vietnam, with more than 58,000 killed and more than 304,000 wounded.
“Our plan is to make this a major recognition event for the Vietnam-era veterans in this region,” said event organizer Joey Pruett of Rector. “We are proud of their service and want to take this opportunity to let them know that in a meaningful way.”
Details of the event are being formulated by a local committee, but the celebration will include an afternoon parade from the downtown area to the beautiful Rector Veteran Memorial Park on Highway 90. Special speakers, music and refreshments will be featured at the strikingly-designed park, with the program set for the large stage area.
Pruett said the local community and supporters of veterans throughout the region are asked to line the street for the parade and give the Vietnam Vets the kind of “Welcome Home” they deserve. All veterans are encouraged to participate in the parade in support of the Vietnam Veterans.
Additional details on the program will be announced later.
The big event will conclude with a mini-concert that afternoon at the veteranspark and a full concert that night by well-known country and gospel artist Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune. He and his band have prepared a special veterans-related program which will be held on the stage of the Rector Community Center on Highway 49.
Fortune launched a solo career after spending 21 years with The Statler Brothers. He wrote three No. 1 hits for the Statler Brothers, starting with “Elizabeth”. He will be performing his song “More Than A Name On A Wall,” which became an important Vietnam War theme song.
“Jimmy Fortune, who has one of the most beautiful voices in country music, is excited about performing in honor of our Vietnam Vets,” Pruett said. “We are very privileged to have him as part of our celebration event.”
Pruett stressed that the “Welcome Home” celebration is designed to honor all Vietnam-era veterans in this region. He and the committee invite all of them to attend and he urges friends of vets to let them know of the special event so that they can receive the recognition they deserve.