Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

It was on March 29, 1973, when American combat and combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam. However, by the war’s end in 1975, more than three million American men and women would serve in Vietnam, including hundreds of members of the Long Gray Line.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is on March 29. The day was established to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed during the longest conflict in United States history. Vietnam Veterans Day has long served as a special part in Macon County’s history as the national holiday originated in Franklin and became law with former Congressman Heath Shuler presented the request to Congress.

This Saturday, at 11 a.m. Macon County will once again honor the men and women who served during the Vietnam War with an annual parade up Main Street, and a program on the town square.

More than 58,000 American service members were killed, never to return. Of this tragic loss of life, 334 were graduates of West Point. National Vietnam War Veterans Day recognizes the military service of these men and women who answered the call to serve their country when she needed them.

Navy Veteran Bobby Kuppers will serve as the guest speaker on Saturday, and plans to address the crowd about how far the nation has come since the end of the war, and how far the nation still has to go to find peace.

“As a veteran, I am honored and humbled to be asked to speak at this important celebration,” said Kuppers. “The former soldiers, sailors and airmen honored at this event were not properly recognized for the sacrifices they made for their country in the same way veterans of previous wars had been.  It is fitting that now, their fellow servicemen and citizens should celebrate their sacrifices and yes, sadly, to honor those that did not come home.  What makes it even more special is how these veterans not only sacrificed for our country in Vietnam, but they continued to make huge contributions to their community upon their return.  They are the pillars of their community, and they are my family and I am honored that they have asked me to participate in this celebration of their service and sacrifice.”

Saturday’s program in Franklin will also include music from Conrad Hefner, and Luke and Rhonda Bateman. Closing remarks will be given by Bill Talbott, president of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter #994 which will be followed by an Honor Guard rifle salute and ta wreath-laying cermeony.