HELENA – A little snow didn’t stop veterans from gathering at the State Capitol on Friday to honor those that served in the Vietnam War.
Vietnam veterans, service members and others held an honor walk around the Capitol complex to commemorate Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
The annual event recognizes the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans and their families. In 2011, the 62nd Montana Legislature enacted into law House Bill 255, which established the holiday.
Organizers of the event said those that served were not always given kind receptions once they came home, often returning with physical or mental scars.
Raymond Read with the Montana Military Museum, and Vietnam Veteran, said he’s always proud to see so many turn out for the event and give those that served a proper homecoming.
“These guys come out every year, no matter what. I suppose if it was just pouring rain, they’d still be out here, but right now we just got a nice little spring blizzard. So we’re OK,” said Read.
Read said that because of the initial treatment returning from war, many Vietnam vets have become advocates to support all veterans coming home from conflict.
“They’re the advocates for the new veterans,” explained Read. “And that’s what we are. We want to recognize everyone for their service.”
More than 36,000 Montana men and women served in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975.
268 men from Montana lost their lives during the conflict, and 22 were recognized as prisoners of war.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News