Vietnam Vets Event Plans Complete

Friday, March 23, 2018

One of a tourist’s must-see monuments when visiting Washington, D.C. is the Vietnam Memorial Wall. A similar wall exists in Little Rock with the names of Arkansans who lost their lives in Vietnam. For many of the era, what has been missing is recognition for those soldiers who came home. At long last, National Vietnam War Veterans Day will unite Americans in thanking and honoring Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. The official national date to recognize returning Vietnam Veterans is March 29, and the following weekend, on Saturday, March 31, Rector will host events to give a rousing welcome home to those veterans.

With high hopes of offering recognition and appreciation, Rector’s Welcome Home committee is asking everyone to pull out red, white and blue clothing and hats for the occasion. As a show of support, citizens may also make signs of welcome, and wave flags in support of the veterans who will march and ride in the parade.

“Everyone has a job to do and the job on that Saturday before Easter is to line the parade route, filling it deep on both sides of the street, with shouts of Welcome Home and chants of U-S-A, U-S-A,” a spokesperson noted. “Don’t be left out of this tribute to the men and women who served our country during the Vietnam War era.”

Beginning at 2 p.m. with a parade down Main Street, Vietnam Veterans will be the focus of attention at a ceremony at Veteran’s Park. Following the ceremony, leisure time will be afforded for veterans and their families to visit with friends and family. They can gather as they choose at the various picnic tables in Rector Memorial Park, as they're welcome to enjoy what committee leaders hope is a beautiful spring day.

From 4 to 6 p.m. the United Methodist Church, located at Main and 3rd Streets will host a fish fry. Gregg Sain and Ron Kemp are planning for a pre-concert feast to be held in the Fellowship Hall of the church.

Jimmy Fortune, of the legendary Statler Brothers and now a solo artist, will perform a concert in honor of Vietnam Veterans beginning at 7 p.m. at the Rector Community Center. Tickets are $20 each and are available at the Rector Water Office or online from the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans web page.

The Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home committee met on Wednesday, March 14, at the Rector Welcome Center. Several guests were on hand, including Ed Cameron of Veterans Helping Veterans, Major Jim Largent, Commander of American Legion Post #17 in Paragould, and Don Foster of the Veterans Support Association.

They offered appreciation, encouragement and outlined what each would be doing to assist in the effort.

“All Vietnam Era Veterans are encouraged to be a part of the celebration,” the spokesperson added. “As has been pointed out, for every man who was in-country, on the front lines, eight more men and women were assigned to other areas to keep the United States safe. All branches of service will be honored.”

As a point of reference, people are reminded two-thirds of those who served in Vietnam volunteered for duty. The event seeks to further honor them, and all veterans, as the parade will include Vietnam era veterans followed by all veterans of any era.

Cathy Manning and Sherland Hamilton are planning the parade, using past Rector parades as examples. Miss Rector, Clara Benito, has already volunteered for service and the committee hopes to engage Miss Clay County, Sawyer Hendrix. Rector High School's award-winning band and an official honor guard will lead the parade.

The ceremony committee was scheduled to meeting again on March 19. To help promote the event, committee members Christa Hedrick and John Bradshaw were scheduled to appear on KAIT's Mid-day with Diana Davis on Wednesday, March 21.

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