Vietnam Veterans of Carbon County celebrated the 38th anniversary of the ending of the war in Vietnam with an impressive ceremony on Sunday afternoon in the courtyard of the Lehighton American Legion Post 314.
Taking part in the program were representatives of all veterans organizations within the county.
Returning veterans of the Vietnam War, didn't have welcoming parades and Americans seemed to shun, if not denigrate Americans who went to Vietnam. Very little was done to aid returning veterans and their loved ones who needed assistance in adjusting.
Many returning soldiers were ashamed of their service, but since the 1980, there has been a slow change of attitude and over the years, the Vietnam veterans have proven to be upstanding citizens and members of their communities.
Harry J. Wynn III, vice commander of the VVCC, served as master of ceremonies.
Wynn noted that the Vietnam Veterans of Carbon County formed four years ago and presently have 104 members.
The program opened with Rudy Balas, assistant Sgt. at arms, offering the invocation.
Guest speaker was Carbon County Judge Steve Serfass. Serfass said that he was honored to be part of the tribute to those who served the nation and the cause of freedom in Vietnam.
"When I was a young boy in Parryville, our family would attend Memorial Day services at the local cemetery," he said. Serfass said those services were overwhelmingly organized by World War II and Korean veterans, but with the passage of time, it is the Vietnam veterans who have assumed leadership roles in veterans affairs of the county, community and country.
"Today we are together to honor the brave men and women who served our nation during the war in Vietnam," said Serfass. " We recognize their valiant efforts to defend our liberty, ensuring our continued safety in a free land and promote democracy abroad."
Serfass added, "We celebrate the veterans whose gallantry and heroic sacrifice protected our great nation and all for which it stands."
Floyd Brown, commander of the Vietnam Veterans Organization of Carbon County and the American Legion Post 314, Lehighton, said, "The Vietnam War ended 38 years ago. Most sent contributed a lot. Many never returned and some were wounded and maimed, but we all say, done that, been there and proud of it."
Kevin Long, president of the United Veterans Organization, said that as he was growing up during the 1960s was a time when so many things were going on.
"No matter which of the five branches of the military you served in or where you were sent, I am one American who is grateful for your service," said Long. "I thank you. May be never forget those still unaccounted for our POWs and MIAs."
Also speaking was Henry Desrosiers, director of the Veterans Affairs office, said, " I extend my personal gratitude to our Vietnam veterans and I ask that we always remember that those who serve do so not for glory, or power, on wealth, but for freedom."
"Vietnam Veterans Day will serve as a reminder of the 58,915 honorable and brave souls who fought and died during the war, along with the veterans who are still missing or have since died from the consequences of the war. None should be forgotten and none will. Thank you for your service and welcome home."
Bob Rehnert, commander of AMVETS Post 106, said "We thank them for their services. We welcome you home."
Wynn, past commander of Legion Post 314, said there was a lot of turmoil in the 1960s.
"Most commonly Vietnam veterans were portrayed as hippys with long hair. Today they are model citizens who have turned out to be well respected in their community."
Henry Long, bugler, provided a musical salute to all branches of the service.
The program concluded with a memorial service to the 13 who were killed in action from Carbon County. Ronald Neff, adjutant, read the following names, Anthony Giannangel, William C. Whitehead Jr. and Michael A. Pavlocak Jr., Lansford; Ronald S.H. Christman, Leon Eckhart and Clyde R. Houser Jr., Lehighton; Neal G. Bollinger and Clifford L. Sell, Palmerton; Charles R. Jones, Parryville; George M. Bevich Jr., Summit Hill; and Edward N. Beers, Paul Hunter and Samuel O'Donnell, Weatherly.