By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Bitterly cold wind didn’t deter the respect nor solemnity of the crowd gathered March 29 for the National Vietnam War Veterans Day observance at Superior Boulevard and Van Alstyne Street.
Mike Goodpaster, president of the Vietnam Veterans of American, Chapter 259 Downriver, who served as master of ceremonies, recognized not only the service members who lost their lives in Vietnam but those who later suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and the ravages of Agent Orange in the decades beyond.
Joining the ceremony were representatives from American Legion posts 67 and 217, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1136, the Purple Heart, the Polish League of American Veterans and for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, a Canadian contingent of Vietnam War veterans.
The Monguagon Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution presented a banner and certificate to Vietnam Veterans of America Downriver Chapter 259 for its involvement as a commemorative partner of the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration Initiative.
National Vietnam War Veterans Day, April 29, was established in 2017 to honor the sacrifices of the 9,087,000 military personnel who served on active duty during the Vietnam era (from Aug. 5, 1964 to March 28, 1973) during a difficult chapter of U.S. history, to help remember them for generations to come.
Goodpaster said they meet on March 29 each year to commemorate comrades both living and no longer with us.
“Today we pay tribute to those we have laid to rest and we reaffirm our dedication by showing a generation of veterans the respect and support of a grateful nation,” he said.
Goodpaster said the Vietnam War was a story of different service members of different backgrounds, colors and creeds who came together to complete a daunting mission.
“It is a story of Americans from every corner of our nation who left the warmth of their families to serve the country they love,” he said. “It is a story of patriots who braved the line of fire, who cast themselves in harm’s way to save a friend and to preserve the liberties we hold dear.”