Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, Vietnam veterans and Fort Stewart representatives met in the Hinesville Room at City Hall before Thursday’s City Council meeting to proclaim June 19 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Hinesville.
Retired Maj. Luis Carreras and retired Sgt. Maj. Adna Chaffee sat next to Thomas, a fellow Vietnam veteran, as he read and signed the proclamation.
The proclamation acknowledges the 3 million service members who served during the war, the ultimate sacrifice of more than 58,000 service members, those who were prisoners of war and missing in action, and “in recognition of a chapter in our Nations’ history that must never be forgotten.”
The proclamation also encourages residents and civic organizations to come to the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony on June 19 at Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the stepped-up American involvement in the Vietnam War and welcome home that generation of veterans.
The proclamation is important because with Hinesville being a city of veterans, “We want to make sure that the service of our veterans (is) recognized and that the families are accorded the dignity that they should have received a long time ago,” Thomas said.
“We have a lot of veterans that are very upset, and I think maybe this might help to heal the process,” Chaffee said.
He went on to say that it’s important for Vietnam veterans to go out on the parade field June 19 not only for themselves, but for today’s soldiers, so they can see the Vietnam veterans finally receiving the welcome-home ceremony they had been denied.
“We made an agreement, the Vietnam veterans, all over the United States and everywhere, that the word is we’re not (to) let anybody forget,” Chaffee said. “And we’re out there day or night, sleet or snow, or whatever it is, to welcome home our soldiers.
“And we want them to know that there is someone here because we didn’t get that, as you know,” he continued. “We didn’t get that. And we will let them know that the country, the people and every veteran and all organizations are there for them, and they did a fine job over there regardless of what happens, politics, whatever. They did a good job.”