Members of a local service club gathered at Union College Saturday to honor local soldiers who fought in a war that claimed more than 58,000 American lives.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, which ended on April 30, 1975.
On Saturday morning, the Dr. Thomas Walker Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution hosted a breakfast and special ceremony to honor the 44 Knox countians who served in Vietnam.
DAR regent Claudia Greenwood welcomed the special guests, including many local Vietnam War veterans.
“You gave such a sacrifice and were away from your families, and were in danger. We know that when you returned, you did not receive the welcome that you should have,” she said. “We want to thank you today for what you have done for us.”
Guest speaker Lt. Col. Mike Warren recalled some of the facts about the war.
“Did you know that two-thirds of the veterans who served in Vietnam were volunteers?” Warren said. “The unit I served with, Co. D 75 Infantry, was all volunteers. In a time when protestors were burning their draft cards, and thousands of draft dodgers and deserters were seeking refuge in Canada, 2.6 million Americans said yes to their country’s call.”
Warren said that of the 58,227 veterans listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall most were volunteers, and 11,465 were less than 20 years old. He noted that the youngest American soldier, Marine PFC Dan Bullock, was only 15 years old when he died.
He added that 31 sets of brothers are listed on the wall, which also contains the names of three fathers and sons who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Warren said the names of eight women are listed on the wall. “These brave nurses were committed to caring for the dying and wounded,” he said, adding that the Women’s Vietnam Memorial, dedicated in 1993, depicts three nurses helping a wounded soldier. “The nurse looking up is named Hope, the nurse praying for the solder is named Faith, and the nurse tending to the soldier is named Charity,” he said.
“The men and women whose names are engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall met their call with courage and patriotism, and all understood their duty, and that liberty is always the achievement of courage,” he added.
Warren said it is also important to remember and honor those who are listed as Missing in Action or Prisoners of War. “Our nation is committed to the Warrior Ethos that states “I will never leave a fallen comrade behind. It continues its efforts to locate, identify, and repatriate those men and women who have not returned home.”
In closing, Warren said, “I urge each of you here today to think about the 2.6 million men and women who served in Vietnam and the 58,227 veterans whose names are engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and the sacrifice they made in a cause they believed in, and many died for.”