State House recognizes ‘great significance’ of Vietnam veterans
By MARY MARKOS
March 28, 2019
Ceremony on eve of new day of recognition for once-disrespected men
“We certainly went through our trials and tribulations. I can’t be prouder of all our armed forces, not just the marines but all our armed forces … I’m proud of my uniform, I’m proud of what I did. It’s nice to see people finally be recognized for it.” Jim Laskey
Vietnam War veterans were welcomed and honored at the first annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day ceremony at the State House Thursday, a stark contrast to the way they were treated when they came home over 40 years ago.
“We should never, ever treat our veterans the way we did, the way we treated Vietnam veterans when they returned,” Rep. Alan Silvia said in his remarks. “Much time has passed and we realize now the great significance Vietnam veterans have had on our country and our freedom and we all thank you.”
Silvia (D-Fall River) and Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport), both Vietnam veterans, decided to host the now-annual event after realizing that there was nothing planned at the State House to recognize National Vietnam War Veterans Day, designated for March 29 annually, signed into law by President Trump in 2017.
“It means a lot. We’ve been celebrating it on our own for about 30 years, so to be recognized by our state is excellent,” Vietnam veteran Harry Tripp told the Herald. “We’re happy to be here, we’re proud to be here.”
Tripp, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, grew up in Westport and served in the Coast Guard from 1969-73. He said the poor treatment of veterans after the war is “still fresh” and “still hurts.”
“It was very difficult coming back. Nobody looked at you the same and actually most of us, including myself, never told anybody that we were a Vietnam veteran until recently and then it became something that we could be proud of,” Tripp said. “If you’re against the war, you’re against the war, but not the warrior. That’s how we felt.”
Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Urena spoke about a new memorial coming to Fall River, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with the names of the over 58,000 people who perished in the war.
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