In late March, the Ohio General Assembly passed and Governor Kasich signed into law the inauguration of Vietnam Veterans Day in Ohio. It will be celebrated each year on March 31st. It has been almost 40 years since the last combat troops returned home from Vietnam and over 35 years since the final evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in what was then Saigon.

This era in American history was filled with strife, civil unrest and the polarization of U.S. citizens around different concepts of freedom and America’s role in world affairs. In many cases, the victims of this discord were the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen, doing their duty far from home in an extremely hostile environment.

There was some discussion in both Houses as to the preferred date for Vietnam Veterans Day. In the end, the real issue was not the date chosen, but rather the recognition of those who served their country because they saw it as their duty to do so. Many of the returning veterans were treated as the “villains” in the Vietnam War debate.

The recognition of a Vietnam Veterans Day in Ohio is an attempt to ensure that all those servicemen and women realize that in retrospect the State acknowledges the value of their service and sacrifice, both while serving in Vietnam and, in many cases, enduring the hostility of some of their fellow countrymen upon arriving home.

The group for which Vietnam Veterans Day is the most significant would be those who paid the ultimate price for America and her freedom while serving in Vietnam and Cambodia. These men and women will now truly be welcomed home by the entire State of Ohio, rather than by just grieving friends and relatives. Although these men and women will never know how much their sacrifice is appreciated, we all will be able to learn a lesson about perspective and taking a broader view of historical events and the people who lived them.

To all Vietnam Veterans, the State of Ohio says, “Welcome Home.”


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