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Closure for Vietnam veterans

Rep. Strickland hosts ceremony

Will J. Thompson, an Air Force and Vietnam War veteran, displays the Certificate of Honor he received during a Vietnam War era Veterans Pinning Ceremony, Oct. 20 at Lakewood City Hall. Photo credit: JM Simpson

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In hosting a Vietnam War era Veterans Pinning Ceremony Oct. 20 at Lakewood City Hall, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland's (WA-10) sincerity toward the veterans and their family members was palpable.

"My father, William Strickland, is a veteran who served in World War II and Korea," she began. "I know that military families and veterans deserve our deepest respect, and it is my honor to recognize Vietnam War veterans and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices."

She recognized the service of each of approximately 15 veterans or surviving family members who attended by presenting each of them with an Honor Certificate and a lapel pin.

The pinning ceremony is a national effort authorized by Congress and carried out by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration to do what many think should have been done decades ago.

"It is a long overdue recognition of the fine men and women who served during the Vietnam War," whispered retired Army Col. Tom Mezs as he watched the ceremony. "I only wish there were more veterans here today."

For almost 20 years, Americans served this country as a member of its armed forces during a tumultuous period of history. During that conflict, over nine million Americans earned the title of veteran.

President Biden reaffirmed and honored the sacrifices all service members made during the Vietnam War when he wrote the following in a March 28, 2022 Proclamation on the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Every service member of the Vietnam generation should know that their sacrifices mattered and that their service made a difference. The names etched in The Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial remind us of our loved ones who gave their all and never came home. To the families, caregivers, and survivors of the more than 58,000 service members whose names are memorialized in the black granite, we pledge to never forget the eternal sacrifice of your loved ones and what you have sacrificed for the nation.

To the families of the over 1,500 service members who remain missing and unaccounted for, know that our nation's efforts to bring them home will never stop.

All U.S. Armed Forces veterans who served between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of their service location, are entitled to be "pinned" and to be thanked for their service by a member of the Department of Defense or a member of Congress.

"We were somehow left out and ignored," pointed out retired Army MSgt. Jake Robinson at the ceremony's end. "And yet in a small way this event helps some Vietnam vets get the closure they need, and that is nice to have."

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