Viet Nam Veteran’s Welcome Home
Back in March, my husband and I had the privilege to be volunteers, with the USO NC, at the Viet Nam Veteran’s Welcome Home Ceremony in Charlotte, NC. Many of you know that I am an Army BRAT, and an Army mom, so my family is quite respectful of our military and their families, and very proud to be Americans. We didn’t hesitate when the opportunity to give back to our veteran’s presented itself.
I will be honest with you. I thought the idea was a nice gesture, but that it was not necessary. Boy, was I wrong. It was reported that about 75,000 people were in attendance, I think that’s a pretty significant number. Many veterans were there with a large number of family members, and yet others were there alone. I think most came with one other person, a spouse or a battle buddy.
It was a wet and dreary day, to start off with. On the shuttle to our entrance gate, my husband, Jim, asked three men across from us what they thought about the idea of the event. The answers surprised me. One said,” I think it’s great!” Another said, “It’s about time.” The last man said, “I think they should make it an annual event until all 50 states have held one.”
Over 2,000 Rolling Thunder riders were there, as well as a large contingent of Patriot Guard Riders. They were soaked, but it didn’t dampen their spirits, or the spirits of the people in the stadium when they rode in. There were speeches and concerts. The moving Wall was there and many men stood with tears as they remembered a fallen friend. I saw lots of hugging and handshaking going on, as well as a good bit of razzing each other.
My job for the day was to stand at a stairway and tell folks to watch their step and thank them for their service. The stairway was very crowded and at times at a standstill. That is when I got to chat for a minute or two with some of the veterans. When I said “Thank you for your service”, I had a number of men put their hands on my shoulder and say “Thank you” in return. It was quite humbling to realize how much this welcome home event truly meant to them.
As we come into this Veteran’s Day, there will be many ceremonies and celebrations. You will see people wearing their military affiliated hats, quite proudly. Take a moment to walk up to a veteran and thank them for their service. You can thank their family, too. As a service member serves, so does their family. Not in the same way, but with strength, courage, pride, determination, faith, hope, and love.
*Contact Pam Horton to find out how you can be a USO volunteer!*
PS. Happy Birthday (23) to my son/soldier JWH3!