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2017 Vietnam Veterans Day Message

March 28, 2017

Most Americans are familiar with Veterans Day. Every November, we show our appreciation to everyone who ever enlisted in our armed forces: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardsmen.

Scattered throughout the year, however, we honor certain groups of veterans who serviced our nation during particular conflicts. For example, we celebrate V-E Day and V-J Day on the anniversaries of the end of World War II combat operations in Europe and Japan. Veterans Day itself was once Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I.

On March 29, we recall the day in 1973 when the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam.

This date is generally considered the official end of the war.

Yet, when we consider the entirety of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, it was not until May of 1975 that U.S. military presence completely ended. Likewise, although the war is generally considered to have “begun” with the deployment of full combat units in 1965, U.S. troops were in country, in harm’s way, as early as 1955.

The U.S. Department of Defense, in its official observance of the 50th anniversary of the war, has declared the Vietnam War Commemoration will recognize the period from Nov. 1, 1955, through May 15, 1975.

Here in Georgia, in our own ongoing tributes to Vietnam veterans we recognize these same dates, and we celebrate the honorable service of every veteran from that era, both those with boots on the ground, as well as those who supported them in other ways.

In this way, we acknowledge the nature of that conflict and the sacrifices of our service men and women that may not fit so neatly between the lines.

Just as we have learned from our mistakes made as a nation in the ill treatment of returning Vietnam veterans, so, too, must we learn to acknowledge the ongoing sacrifices of our troops today, whether or not we have officially designated an “end” to combat operations in any particular part of the world.

Holidays are well and good, but we must remember our Vietnam veterans, all of our veterans, each and every day, including March 29.

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About the Author

Mike Roby is Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, the state government agency working on behalf of Georgia’s veterans and their families. For information on how the GDVS can assist you, please visit the GDVS website.

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