SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A special tribute Saturday honored five Springfield African-American men killed in action during the Vietnam War.
The National Association of Black Veterans Springfield Chapter paid tribute to the five men from Mason Square who were killed in action between 1967-1968.
Dozens of veterans, family members and city officials attended the emotional ceremony which was held at the Vietnam War memorial that is in the center of Mason Square on State Street.
NABVETS Commander Milton Jones told 22News, “The 5 men on this wall are from Springfield and from this community. They were well known and that’s why so many people are here. I actually grew up with one of them myself”
22News spoke with many veterans who said that this ceremony makes them feel honored and supported for all that they have done, and sacrificed for our country.
Vietnam Veterans of Massachusetts Director Bernard McClusky told 22News, “We came back in the community and managed to do our work and make sure the country is a better country for all of us.”
Vietnam Veteran Bill Walls added, “Coming up and really paying homage this day for those fallen heroes is a very serious matter for me, because I want the whole neighborhood, the whole community, and everyone to understand that what we stand for is much more than what we fall for.”
This is the nation’s oldest memorial and is the only one to honor black Vietnam veterans in the entire country.
Next year, the monument will reach its 50th year of existence, making it eligible to become a nationally, historically preserved property.
Justin Hurst, whose father is honored on the memorial, told 22News, “Our veterans have served our country have given us the freedom we enjoy today, so to come out and honor those who have fallen, those who have served, and those who continue to serve is an absolute honor and privilege.”