Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony held at City Hall
Wrangell American Legion Post 6 member Rich Rhodes salutes the flag as fellow member Harry Churchill raises it in honor of Vietnam Veterans Day in Alaska. The day was established to fall on March 29 of every year by Gov. Sean Parnell’s office.
Gov. Sean Parnell signed into law last week a bill designating March 29 of each year as Vietnam Veterans Day in Alaska.
Parnell was joined for the bill signing in the packed Speaker’s chamber by legislators and veterans of the war, some of whom are serving in the Legislature, including Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, who served in the Army.
“This is welcome home,” he said, his voice cracking. “Welcome.”
March 29, 1973, marked the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Vietnam.
In Wrangell, the American Legion Post No. 6 held a flag raising ceremony in remembrance of those being honored for service in Southeast Asia during the war.
After an invocation by Pastor Kem Haggard of the Harbor Light Assembly of God
Church, Post member Rich Rhodes addressed the small audience present at City Hall’s flagpole. Rhodes said later that the event was significant and necessary for remembering those who served their nation.
“Many Americans gave their lives in the Vietnam War and many families lost loved ones and have had to live their lives with an emptiness of those who never returned home,” Rhodes said. “For those who came home, in most part, came home to an ungrateful nation. May we always remember, honor and respect the sacrifices these service members made who did and didn’t come home.”
Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, said he carried the bill at the request of Bill Thomas, a former Republican state representative from Haines who sought unsuccessfully to get a similar bill passed last year. Thompson said Vietnam veterans were not greeted with parades and speeches but instead with silence and sometimes abuse for having served.