It’s Never Too Late to Thank a War Veteran

Vietnam War vets receive a long overdue thank you.

In Utica, New York, veterans and families gathered for a Vietnam War commemoration. Although a thanks and recognition may be a bit overdue for these veterans, Marine Corp. war veteran Jim Nesbitt commented with, “It’s never too late to say thank you.”

Gathering Sunday October 14th at the E.P.O. Elks Utica Lodge #33, over 50 veterans and families paid tribute to the vets who never received a proper dedication for their sacrifices they made to preserve American freedoms. Ed Potrzeba, the Veteran Service chairman for the lodge reminisced on early years following the war and said, “When they came back from the war, they were not treated very well.”

Elks Utica Lodge 33, Thank a Veteran
From left, Ann McDonald, exultant ruler of E. P. O. Elks Utica Lodge #33, accepts a folded American flag that pays tribute to Vietnam War veterans during a dinner to honor the vets. McDonald accepted the flag from Thomas Buono, president of the Vietnam Veterans of American Utica Chapter 944.

The Department of Defense reported earlier this year that they will carry out a Vietnam War Commemoration Project, planned to span 13 years, the length of the war. This project will devote many resources to sponsor commemoration events, along with efforts to preserve the history through forums, seminars, and other speeches.

This particular ceremony honored those who fought and returned, those who fought and died, prisoners of war, those missing in action, and all mothers who lost a child in the war. Mary Wheeler, a Vietnam War Gold Star Mother, lost her 18-year-old son Joseph in March of 1968. She expressed her gratitude with, “It’s an organization like no other. We bond because of our loss. The main objective is to make sure principles for which our sons and daughters died remain alive.” Preceding the ceremony, all in attendance enjoyed a sit down dinner.

Wheeler went on to say, “There is no such thing as closure.” Family and other veterans have contributed tremendous support to her and her family over the years. Nesbitt agrees with the very unfavorable treatment returning vets met, but attempts now to make amends are worthwhile. They defended the American flag, a symbol of freedom for all, and it’s now time to stand up for those men and women. Though time has passed, it’s never too late to thank a war veteran for their service.

Credit: Utica Observer-Dispatch

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