Louisiana’s Vietnam Veterans Welcomed Home at Vietnam Sar 50th Anniversary Commemoration
Published 9:17 am Saturday, April 1, 2023
BATON ROUGE—The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs welcomed more than 700 Vietnam veterans, family members and veteran supporters to the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration honoring Louisiana’s Vietnam veterans today at the Raising Cane’s River Center.
“As Louisiana’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and a Vietnam combat veteran myself, it was a great joy to host this commemoration event to honor Louisiana’s Vietnam veterans on National Vietnam War Veterans Day,” said LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland, COL (USA Retired). “Vietnam veterans are now the largest cohort of veterans in our nation, and we will continue to welcome them home.”
Raising Cane’s River Center doors opened at 9 a.m. where guests had time before the 10 a.m. ceremony to view exhibits of Vietnam War service memorabilia and browse veteran resource booths. Staff from LSU’s T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History were on hand to discuss oral histories with Vietnam veterans, and 40 of those veterans scheduled time with LSU to record their stories.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, fellow veteran and West Point graduate, spoke of his time at the military academy. He said that it was Vietnam Army officers who taught him, and that they greatly impacted his life. The ceremony included moving reflections of service in the Vietnam War and recognition of service members who served in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard as well as a presentation of a commemorative challenge coin to all Vietnam veterans in attendance. At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests enjoyed lunch and a musical tribute by “The Remnants: A 1960s Experience Band.”
The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, a state cabinet agency, serves Louisiana’s more than 85,000 Vietnam veterans and all of Louisiana’s 283,000 veterans and their families throughout the year. The department operates five veterans homes, five veterans cemeteries, 74 veterans benefits and appeals offices throughout the state, the Military Family Assistance Fund and numerous other veteran service programs, including women veteran’s support, veteran homelessness prevention, veteran suicide prevention and assistance with veteran job referrals.
The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. Nearly three million Americans served in uniform in Vietnam, and more than three million people, including more than 58,000 Americans, were killed in the war. More than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty, while more than 1,600 still remain missing or unrecoverable.