Vietnam vets honored at Carson City ceremony
Steve Ranson | LVN Editor Emeritus
Saturday was a day of celebration and remembrance for Northern Nevada’s Vietnam War veterans.
Carson City’s annual Welcome Home ceremony at Mills Park recognized the heroism and sacrifices of the state’s 151 Vietnam veterans who died as a result of one of the country’s longest wars, ending with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
More than 150 people gathered at the Nevada Vietnam War Memorial on the park’s southern edge to pay their respects and to also hear the words of Mayor Robert Crowell, who delivers the annual keynote address. Like veterans of other wars, he said almost 400 servicemen and women who served in Vietnam die each day.
“A morbid thought, perhaps, but it remains for us, the living to carry the torch of liberty and remembrance,” said Crowell, a member of the Carson Area Chapter 388 of the Vietnam Veterans of America and a Navy veteran who also served in Vietnam. “We also gather to offer a warm welcome home to those of us who served in that war, a welcome home that we never received at the conclusion of the Vietnam War.”
Crowell spoke before a crowd that was attended by many first-time visitors to the event and noted through the efforts of many veterans’ organizations, public opinion polls show almost 90 percent of Americans hold Vietnam veterans in high esteem. Approximately 2.7 million veterans served in Vietnam, but Crowell said about one-third of that total are still alive.
“And as we get older, perhaps the greatest reason we gather here today is to share a few moments without fellow veterans and their families and friends and perhaps reflect on what that war meant and means to each of us on so many different levels,” he said. “As I look out over the audience today I see friends, most I know and others I don’t, but friends nevertheless.
“Yes, we may have differences. That is what makes for a diverse society. But for each of us here today, be you a veteran, a veteran’s spouse or a family friend, there is a common bond that unites us for life — and indeed after — an unstated but very real feeling of camaraderie, mutual respect and understanding.”
As with a Reno ceremony earlier in the day, Crowell said fellow veterans pay tribute to the sacrifices of those whose names who are etched on both the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. and the traveling Vietnam walls that visit hundreds of communities to allow residents an opportunity to reflect. Then, he mentioned the veterans who returned home with wounds not visible to others.
“Today we reaffirm and offer our assistance to our fellow warriors who came home with bent and broken bodies and the many who still suffer with the unseen scars of war,” Crowell added.
This year’s remembrance occurred a day after the second National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Readers from VVA 388 and Sierra Chapter 989 in Reno took turns in announcing the names of Nevadans killed in Vietnam with Army veteran Lee Jackson tolling a bell at the mention of each represented city and its fallen warriors.
Master of ceremonies Darrol Brown of VVA 388, which conducts the annual remembrance, gave a brief overview on the importance of the state’s official Vietnam memorial. He said Nevada State Prison inmates affiliated with Chapter 545 and the Northern Nevada Correctional Center’s Chapter 719 assisted Chapter 388 with the project, and in 2012, the Carson City chapter worked with the Carson City Parks and Recreation Department to restore and refurbish the memorial that’s nestled among trees in a quiet spot at one of the area’s largest parks.