WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Wednesday is National “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” Day.
More than 3 million Americans served in the Vietnam War, and 50 years later, and Veterans have seen a gradual change in perspective. The Vietnam War started on November 1st, 1955 and ended April 30th, 1975. It was an “unpopular war.”
Richard Tyrell, SSGT USMC, retired, Springfield said, “There were people who felt that we shouldn’t be fighting it. There were people who blamed the men and women fighting it.”
Vietnam Veterans came home to angry demonstrators and disrespect. “Some of the families of the men and women that died in Vietnam received phone calls telling them that their child deserved to die for going to war. So I mean it was a very disruptive time in the country,” Tyrell said. Since then, Americans have come to understand that it was a political war, and service members were not to blame.
Vietnam Veterans 22News spoke with said perspectives about their service have changed for the better over the years but it’s also about remembering those that never made it back home. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
Norman Burns, SGT, USMC, of Agawam said, “It’s great that we have a day and everything, but it makes me think of the friends and relatives we lost over there.”
Three major initiatives are taking place to recognize Vietnam Vets in western Massachusetts over the next year:
- “The Wall that Heals,” a replica of the Vietnam Memorial will be on display at the Big E in West Springfield in August.18th-21st.
- West Springfield public schools plan to include Vietnam vets in their curriculum.
- There is also an effort to retrieve photos of all the western Massachusetts vietnam veterans whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D-C.
Click here to find out about “The Wall that Heals” visit to West Springfield in August and the list of names of Vietnam Vets that photos are being sought after for.