At the time when Vietnam veterans returned to the United States, there were no welcome home ceremonies at airports or other public places as is the case today. To remedy that, the Vietnam War Commemoration was established by the President and Congress in 2012.
The program commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and aims to thank and honor Vietnam veterans. Humana, a leading health and well-being company, is a Commemorative Partner of the program.
To support and salute Vietnam veterans, the Humana neighborhood location in Mesa, Arizona, hosted a Vietnam Veterans Pinning and Proclamation Ceremony on March 9.
Close to 70 people attended the event and 45 Vietnam veterans were presented with Vietnam War Veteran lapel pins. The pins were presented by Humana employees who thanked the veterans for their service before giving them a pin signifying a token of gratitude for their service.
In addition, a representative from Congressman Andy Bigg’s (R-AZ5) office read and presented a letter to each veteran after they were pinned.
The ceremony Humana sponsored in Mesa served as a “welcome home,” publicly acknowledging the military service and sacrifices made by these veterans, and their families, during the Vietnam War. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War; approximately 7 million are living today.
“It was a pretty moving afternoon for me. I wasn’t ready to experience all the emotions,” said Mike Boken, a Vietnam veteran who participated in the ceremony and received a pin for his service. “I was really flabbergasted of all the work that was put into this ceremony, all the work that Humana has done. I’m actually speechless.”
Two Arizona Vietnam veterans shared their Vietnam War stories with the audience and a Mesa resident recited a poem she wrote when she was 17 during the war.
Following the Pining and Proclamation Ceremony, the community was invited to participate in a veterans health and service fair. Local area veterans organizations were present and shared resources and information with community members.
To reach the large numbers of Vietnam veterans, the Vietnam War Commemoration has enlisted the assistance of many thousands of Commemorative Partner organizations at the local, state and national levels to conduct pinning events and activities that recognize Vietnam veterans and their families in their local communities. To find an event near you visit www.vietnamwar50th.com.