The community will have the chance to say "Thank you" and finally "officially" welcome home Vietnam veterans at the 2nd annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event Saturday at Charlie Daniels Park at 10 a.m.
Last year's inaugural event, sponsored by the Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281, was highly successful as hundreds gathered at the ceremony organizers said was "a long time coming."
"Welcome Home," is a phrase many Vietnam veterans say was never uttered when they came home from overseas after serving in one of America's longest and most controversial wars.
Rather, "War Monger," "Baby Killer," "American Traitor" was what they heard. Dozens of similar demeaning phrases were hurled at many of them, along with spit in their faces. Vietnam veteran and former Wilson County sheriff Terry Ashe said two teenaged girls threw their chewing gum on his feet when he first stepped foot in American, after serving in the Vietnam War.
Organizers expect even more than last year's 250 Vietnam veterans to show up Saturday where Ashe will give the opening remarks. It will last until 4 p.m. The keynote speaker is Dr. David Black, who is a Marine Vietnam veteran and husband to Congresswoman Diane Black.
Scheduled is a POW/MIA missing man ceremony, a display of military equipment, many venders, door prizes and a silent auction. There will be live music as well, among other scheduled events.
Spokesperson Will Sellers said he hopes the community will converge on Charlie Daniels Park to show respect and honor those who served in the Vietnam War.
Last year Ashe said, "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
You did do something, you made our country freer," he said.