Help Honor Our Black American Vietnam Veterans, Vietnam Veterans’ Day is March 29th

Vietnam Veterans’ Day is March 29th in Wisconsin and about a dozen other states. There is a national push taking place right now. Learn more at TSIO.org

There are many to choose from. We remember and honor them all. Here are a few examples.

Clifford Chester Sims – On February 21, 1968, after tripping a hidden booby-trap, Sims saved his squad by throwing his body on top of the bomb and absorbing the shock.
Clifford Chester Sims – On February 21, 1968, after tripping a hidden booby-trap, Sims saved his squad by throwing his body on top of the bomb and absorbing the shock. Via:TheGrio.com
Dwight Johnson was the only  tank driver to receive  The Medal of Honor  for bravery in combat, strangely not with his tank that he exited when it stopped . Under devastating fire,  he fought the enemy  with a .45 caliber pistol, advanced to  arm himself with a sub machine gun, brought a wounded tank driver to safety, remounted  his own immobilized tank where  he bravely and skillfully engaged the tank's externally-mounted .50 caliber machine gun until the situation was brought under control.
Dwight Johnson was the only tank driver to receive The Medal of Honor for bravery in combat. Under devastating fire, he fought the enemy with a .45 caliber pistol, advanced to arm himself with a sub machine gun, brought a wounded tank driver to safety, remounted his own immobilized tank where he bravely and skillfully engaged the tank’s externally-mounted .50 caliber machine gun until the situation was brought under control. Via: Badass.com
Former Green Beret Melvin Morris of Port St. John, FL will receive the Medal of Honor -- four decades late -- for actions in Vietnam in 1969. Morris found his niche in the military. By 1961, he was one of the first soldiers donning the "green beret" of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Read his story herehttp://www.wtsp.com/story/news/local/2014/03/18/florida-vietnam-veteran-receives-medal-of-honor/6563865/
Former Green Beret Melvin Morris of Port St. John, FL will receive the Medal of Honor — four decades late — for actions in Vietnam in 1969. Morris found his niche in the military. By 1961, he was one of the first soldiers donning the “green beret” of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Via:http://www.wtsp.com/
Overlooked due to race, Melvin Morris receives belated military honor.  *From pinner - gran5n6 - Shame on our government...!
According to his medal citation, Morris and two other men went to retrieve a body. As he was giving him his last rites, a hail of gunfire opened up, and the two other men were wounded. He helped evacuate his fellow soldiers, then turned around. Through withering fire, he charged a line of bunkers, destroyed four of them with grenades, drove the enemy fighters back, collected a fallen map case that held sensitive material and then carried the commander’s body out of harm’s way, all while taking bullets to arm, hand and chest. For his actions that day, Staff Sgt. Morris was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds, and the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest decoration, for his heroism. Morris went back to Vietnam for a second combat tour.
Specialist/SFC Lawrence Joel (February 22, 1928–February 4, 1984) was an American military veteran. He served in the United States Army in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. While serving in Viet Nam, as a medic assigned to 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Joel received the Silver Star and the Medal of Honor for his heroism in a battle with the Viet Cong that occurred on November 8, 1965.
Specialist/SFC Lawrence Joel (February 22, 1928–February 4, 1984) was an American military veteran. He served in the United States Army in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. While serving in Viet Nam, as a medic assigned to 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Joel received the Silver Star and the Medal of Honor for his heroism in a battle with the Viet Cong that occurred on November 8, 1965. Via:Freepublic.com
Specialist 4 Esther M. Gleaton, clerk-typist, WAC (Women's Army Corps) Detachment, Long Binh, Vietnam, 1968-1969.
Vietnam War- Specialist 4 Esther M. Gleaton Specialist 4 Esther M. Gleaton, clerk-typist, WAC (Women’s Army Corps) Detachment, Long Binh, Vietnam, 1968-1969. Via:America Memorial Foundation
An image from the Soul Soldiers exhibit which is based on the book: Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era.
An image from the Soul Soldiers exhibit which is based on the book: Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era. Via: Theblackartdepot.com

First African American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War

Milton Lee Olive, III (November 7, 1946 – October 22, 1965) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of America's highest military decoration — the Medal of Honor — for his actions in the Vietnam War. At the age of 18, Olive sacrificed his life to save others by smothering a live grenade. He was the first African American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

Milton Lee Olive, III (November 7, 1946 – October 22, 1965) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration — the Medal of Honor — for his actions in the Vietnam War. At the age of 18, Olive sacrificed his life to save others by smothering a live grenade. He was the first African American Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

March 25th is also Medal of Honor Day.

In 1993, Congress ordered a study to determine whether racism explained why no black soldier had received the Medal of Honor in World War II. “It was a pretty persuasive document that said yes, in all likelihood, or without doubt, racial discrimination in the Army, in all of the services, ended up creating this imbalance,” Richard Kohn, a former Pentagon executive and one of the researchers, told America Tonight. The study paved the way for other reviews of different groups of minority soldiers overlooked for the military’s highest honor because of politics or prejudice. In 2002, the National Defense Authorization Act ordered the Army to review all of the Jewish and Hispanic soldiers who had received the Distinguished Service Cross from World War II onward, to see if any had deserved the nation’s highest honor. VIA:OriginalPeople.org

Vietnam- Bridging the Gap, The Vision (TSIO)

Vietnam Veteran’s Day for Wisconsin, March 29th of each year

IMG_0780Thuy Smith is no longer focused on or involved with Vietnam Veteran’s Day events and activities. She has been talking about transitioning her focus and activities for the last couple of years. At this time TSIO has not endorsed any group or event moving forward with Vietnam Veteran’s Day for Wisconsin. Please see ideas below that groups and individuals moving forward into the future can use if they choose. Thuy Smith is currently not on advisory boards nor will she be able to participate at this time.

There are many things that can be done to bring awareness to Vietnam Veterans Day all throughout the month of March leading up to the actual day itself. Here are some ideas for groups and individuals to use, add to, change, or to jump-start other ideas. History and past events (Click here)

1.  Vietnam Veteran’s Day (Main) Committee to oversee: Speaker’s Bureau, Main event (ceremony, banquets- can alternate from year to year), Various Outreaches to Veterans and community, etc. OR, different activities decided and divided among various Veteran organizations to implement. See more below.

2.  Annual Banquets: This is an event that we did for a few years and many Veterans and their families enjoyed it. It is a great time to gather for camaraderie, networking, and making new friendships. We always had a speaker with a specific focus. Entertainment such as one song was the best approach we found since veterans reported the camaraderie aspect was the part they enjoyed the best.

3.   Workshop: After the last couple of years of organizing an event that presented various displays that veterans created themselvesTSIO received reports that these activities and this type of event was the best ever. Many Veterans asked how they could get assistance in putting a display of their own together. This is where a workshop could come into play. Youth groups that have been involved in the past with TSIO events such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts would love an opportunity to get involved to put display boards or scrap books together. They are technically savy and creative. This would be another great opportunity to bridge the gap between the generations and create a mutual learning experience. Once these display boards and or scrap books are created, it is something the veteran can always have, add to, and use for potential speaking engagements, other presentations, and events. It is something they can leave with their families especially their children and grandchildren. A copy can be made and turned into the local historical society. Share your story, create your art.

4.  Speakers: TSIO always tried to get someone to speak that can touch on either their own personal experience or some focus that had a universal message or appeal. TSIO understood that every person’s experience, process, and perspective is different. TSIO also understood that although there are many differences, there are also many similarities and common ground. TSIO always promoted and emphasized this understanding in hopes of bridging the gap through all speakers, activities, and events. TSIO kept the politics and controversies of the war itself out of our mission. We didn’t want to portray an “us against them” message with others in the community. Nobody can make anyone respect or honor anyone. It is something that has to naturally take place. Our emphasis was more on young men who went off to war long ago, voluntarily or not, and to create a platform to educate others about their individual experiences and perspectives. We wanted to use speakers that would debunk the myth of the stereotypical militaristic war mongering soldier glorifying war. We also wanted to separate ourselves from the minority individuals (Veterans and those portraying to be Veterans) who unfortunately would help perpetuate this very stereotype to the community and among their fellow Veterans. Instead of highlighting the war, we wanted to highlight a majority of the Veterans’ intentions of going to Vietnam, which was to do good. Our goal was to highlight and emphasize what many Vietnam Veterans are currently doing for their communities and those who continue to do positive things in Vietnam today. We made sure to incorporate family members to share their experiences and perspectives or on behalf of their Veteran.

5.  Speakers Bureau: This could be set up with oversight through a board that is formed with representatives from various groups, organizations, and other individuals. A mission focus, policies, bylaws, non-voting membership rules and benefits, criteria, and terms can be set up for members of the oversight board as well as the speaker bureau itself. This will help encourage, empower, and promote diversity along with accountability and to prevent any one individual or group from dominating. The speakers from the bureau would be available to speak at Vietnam Veteran’s Day and other related events, civic groups and meetings, schools, the media, etc. Speeches can be done through various venues and platforms throughout the month of March to leading up to the actual day.

6.  Veteran of the Year: This award could be given at the banquet with a nice plaque and introduction highlighting contributions and a few brief minutes for him or her to speak (can’t forget about the women). This could be a way to include your city council president or mayor and the media with a brief write-up and picture of the veteran and Vietnam Veteran’s Day. TSIO tried to put a positive face to Vietnam Veterans by highlighting the contributions of the Vietnam Veteran to his or her local community rather than relating it to the war itself. Any contribution to the community could be recognized, not just contributions made to their fellow veteran.

7.  Scholarship: Create a writing competition (middle school age) with a theme related to Vietnam Veterans or the Vietnam War Era. For Ex: Agent Orange, PTSD, Coming Home, Medics and Nurses, Women in Vietnam, etc. A winner or winners are picked and earn scholarships such as $100, $500, etc. Again generating awareness and education around Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Veteran’s Day by announcing the winner(s) in the newspaper with their picture and piece they wrote. It also gets the kids and schools involved.  

8Outreach to Veterans: The best way to get the word out is to simply do outreach, outreach, and more outreach to other Vietnam Veterans and their familiesThis is much of what Thuy Smith did to make connections with new Vietnam Veterans who were not yet aware of Vietnam Veteran’s Day, the event, and other activities involved. Thuy just didn’t invite people to attend something, she encouraged others to get involved and empowered them to believe that they had something of value to contribute as well. A poem, other reflection or writing, artwork, pictures, memorabilia, a story, insight from experience and lessons learned, a voice, etc. as much if not more as others who usually do the speaking. This is where the educational events with the individual displays come in quite nicely. This allowed for anyone and everyone (within appropriate guidelines) to contribute and have a voice.

9.   Outreach to businesses and Churches: to have businesses and churches help bring awareness to their employees and congregations by announcing it in their newsletters, church bulletins, and other publications, to announce it to their customers, to have their veterans acknowledged at the workplace or at church, have them briefly speak, etc.

Proclamations: Contact and work with your local CVSO to find out how you can support the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls City Council local proclamation that TSIO has started and implemented the last two years. If you are from another community, approach your local CVSO about implementing the same plan in your city that your CVSO’s office is based in. If your CVSO’s office is not based in your community, move forward with support of other Veterans and or Veteran organizations to propose the proclamation on your own. Many Veterans and their family members can be invited to attend and it can be another way to generate community and media acknowledgement and support.

Informational Cards: In 2010 one of our committee members proposed putting together a card which was the same size of a business card. On the front it said Vietnam Veteran’s Day, March 29 (bill passed in 2009), 1960-1975 (time frame of the Vietnam War Era), a map of Vietnam (major cities listed), service ribbons (across the bottom), National and Wisconsin statistics of active duty and those directly in Vietnam (on the back of the card). The front was done in an attractive red color for a nice keepsake. These are simple to make, easy to hand out, quick way to get the word out to fellow Veterans, their families, and others in the community.

12.  T-shirts and Pins: In 2010 we created pins and T-shirts that can be distributed or used to raise funds to support other activities. This is something people would wear to generate ongoing free advertising and awareness to the day. Create your own to wear or have an official group create one to bring awareness to either the day itself or an event related to it.

Thuy Smith and TSIO has been involved with Vietnam Veterans and their families for 18 years. TSIO’s focus is not and has never been just a Veteran or Vietnam era focus. Although Thuy will no longer be involved with Vietnam Veteran’s Day activities, she wanted to leave her final thoughts and ideas for others to use, add to, or change if they choose. All information can be found on our website at TSIO.ORG

Related Post: Healing My Vietnam

back shirt
Click Image for Website to learn more

 

World Outreach Blog (Sample Posts)

Below are links to a couple of posts from our other Blog. One post is about a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia (2014) and the other is from a previous trip. Go to our World Outreach Blog to follow and view more posts.

IMG_2563

globe.jpg
For more about our work- click here to go to our website

 – You can follow us at Facebook and Twitter to get all of our posts and updates.