Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
“Never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another”
In the spirit of brotherhood, veterans from across Macon County marched up Main Street Saturday in honor of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The annual event is hosted by the Macon County Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #994. This year’s event marked the 45th anniversary of the removal of all American combat troops from Vietnam, ending two decades of conflict in the Southeast Asian country.
Since 2009, the Macon County Vietnam Veterans have recognized their fellow Vietnam veterans and their families with the parade and ceremony, especially those who made the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives during the Vietnam conflict. In the Vietnam War, 58,000 soldiers made such a sacrifice, including several from Macon County. White crosses representing and honoring those Maconians who gave their lives in the Vietnam War were lined up in rows in front of the county courthouse. Macon County veterans led the charge, with the help of former Congressman Health Shuler, to have Vietnam Veterans Day formally recognized as a national holiday.
This year’s ceremony began with a welcome from Bill Talbott, President of VVA Chapter #994 followed by the opening prayer by Dale Cannon, VVA Chaplain. State Leaders including Senator Jim Davis and Representative Kevin Corbin, along with local leaders, Mayor Bob Scoot, and County Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Gary Shields addressing the crowd and thanking Vietnam Veterans for their service, and the community for supporting all veterans.
“You will never, ever be forgotten in Macon County,” said Beale. “We welcome you home. On behalf of the county and all Maconians, whether you are visiting here today or live here, we thank you for your service. We appreciate and thank you, not only for what you did but for what you continue to do.”
Retired Navy Veteran Bobby Kuppers served as the event’s keynote speaker. Kuppers spoke to the relentless effort and diligence of the Vietnam Era veterans and their determination to serve the country, whatever the cost.
“Today we recognize these American heroes, these brave people who answered their country’s call even as their fellow countrymen avoided that call, people who understood better than most Americans what service to country really means,” said Kuppers. “To their enduring credit, much as they had in Vietnam, often when no one else would, they continued to look after each other; they returned to their homes and became pillars of this community and other communities, continuing to serve causes greater than themselves.”
Kuppers spoke to how the men and women who served during Vietnam returned home to continue serving their communities, despite not being welcomed back.
“Our town, our county and our country are better because of them, and on behalf of our community, I thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do every single day,” said Kuppers. “I respect your service, both then and now more than you will ever know. Your loyalty to each other and to this country stands as a proud example for all Americans to emulate. As a proud veteran, you are my sister, you are my brother, and I am honored to know you and I will always have your back.”