Article- First official Vietnam Veterans Celebration this weekend

Chippewa Herald Newspaper- Vietnam veterans day
March 29th, 23:37

First Official Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration

By LIZ HOCHSTEDLER | liz.hochstedler@lee.net | Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010 8:18 am |

WHAT: The First Official Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration.

WHO: Veterans, their families and members of the community are encouraged to attend. There is no admission fee.

WHEN: 1:30-4 p.m. Saturday, March 27.

WHERE: North High School, 1801 Piedmont Road, Eau Claire.

Thuy Smith has been waiting for this weekend for several years. Finally, she has an official event to honor Vietnam War era veterans.

Smith runs Thuy Smith International Outreach, a non-profit organization out of Chippewa Falls. The organization honors Vietnam War era veterans and assists poor countries, including Vietnam.

Last year she worked to have a state bill passed into law that created an official Vietnam Veterans’ Day. Monday, March 29, will be the first time that day is celebrated in the state.

But Smith is starting the festivities early.

On Saturday, North High School in Eau Claire will be open to Vietnam War era veterans, their families and the community to honor those vets.

“It’s their time to be recognized on this level,” Smith said.

The First Official Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration in Wisconsin begins at 1:30 p.m. with acoustic music and a Huey helicopter on display. A ceremony starts at 2 p.m., and the event runs until about 4 p.m.

Kenneth Black, the secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs, is expected to share some words, along with State Rep. Ron Kind (D-Eau Claire). WEAU-TV’s Judy Clark will emcee the event, and Wisconsin Public TV and Radio will show clips from upcoming documentaries about the war.

Two area veterans who just returned from a trip to Vietnam will talk about their journey, and Ron Dyer, who initiated the first Vietnam Veterans Day in the country, will also speak.

Hmong and Native American veterans will also be honored, and there will be a small presentation on the Vietnamese culture.

At the conclusion of the event, members of the Air Force, Army and Marines, and those from patriotic organizations will line an “Aisle of Honor.”

Vietnam era veterans, Gold Star Families and family members of absent or deceased veterans will then walk down the aisle.

Smith was inspired to help create Vietnam Veterans Day after being asked to talk to a group of veterans years ago. She’s the daughter of a Vietnam veteran who served three years in the war. Her mother is Vietnamese, and her parents met during the war.

“I’ve just seen through the years how this has affected everybody, not just the vets, but the families,” she said.

Smith said for decades the Vietnam War veterans have gone with little recognition, but she hopes the new veterans day will get them noticed.

“Forty-some years later, it’s about time I think,” she said.

Smith encourages members of the community to attend the event to show support for the veterans and learn more about the new Vietnam Veterans Day.

She hopes to hold similar events in the future, though likely not at the same scale.

“This is in hopes that every year the community will have this date that will draw their attention,” she said.

A dinner that requires reserved tickets will be held after the public ceremony.

Posted in Local on Friday, March 26, 2010 8:18 am Updated: 10:37 am. | r