GALLIPOLIS — Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4464 will be hosting a Vietnam War veterans “welcome home” motorcade March 30 at 1 p.m. that will glide along Second Avenue.
According to VFW member Tom Abrahamson, any individual with a pickup truck, motorcycle or other vehicle is welcome to participate in the motorcade. Flags are asked to be hung from vehicles. The date of the event coincides with national events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Line-up for the event will begin at noon at Duke Cleaners. The motorcade will proceed to Gallipolis City Park and meet at the Doughboy monument. A VFW honor guard will perform military rites for 12 Gallia veterans who perished during the Vietnam War. A meal will follow at 6 p.m. at the VFW 4464 Post on Third Avenue. Veterans and their families are welcomed to attend.
According to Post Commander Bill Mangus, when many Vietnam veterans returned home, they were not celebrated like previous veterans that had fought in World War II or the Korean War. Mangus told the Tribune he remembered veterans coming home and being spit on after having endured traumatic human experiences, watching comrades and friends pass in explosions or gunfire. Many veterans did not return home to parades, only spite.
Because of this and because of the commemoration date of the war, Mangus and other VFW members felt it necessary to conduct a “welcome home” ceremony for those who never received one. The commander emphasized the importance of the phrase, not just as part of a commemoration ceremony, but also in honor of the sacrifices that were made during conflict. The phrase gave veterans something to look forward to during dark times.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans saw active duty in the U.S. armed forces during the time of the Vietnam War. Somewhere around 7 million are still living. According to thevietnamewar.info, around 58,000 estimated American military personnel were lost in the conflict. Roughly 47,000 of those were lost in combat and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.