Local Vietnam veterans honored years after service

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JACKSON, Tenn. — This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The controversial, nearly 20-year battle saw almost 60,000 young American men give their lives. But for most, when they returned home they weren’t received with open arms from the whole country. Thursday night, they were shown that well-deserved appreciation. More than 20 Vietnam veterans gathered to be honored for their service to our country in a special ceremony after retiring American flags at the VFW in north Jackson. While all the men served the stars and stripes in their youth, many never received appreciation for their sacrifice. “To be greeted that way and told that there’s protesters outside going to protest against us, and all this time we thought we had been fighting for our country,” Vietnam veteran Leonard Swann said. “I came back in 1970, and I did like everybody else — I came back and let my hair grow out and didn’t tell nobody I was in or nothing, you know?” said Vietnam veteran Danny Jackson. “I just tried to blend in.” Organizers called the night a sign of healing for both the veterans and the community. “It just brings a lot of healing to both parties,” Jon Harrison said. “To the public and to the veterans to know that, hey, we spent a lot of time suffering with this and now we’re getting thanked.” It’s a thank you that’s long overdue but still just as appreciated. “Most of us went 45 to 50 years, never got a thank you for what we did in Vietnam, and finally people realize we were soldiers too, so it feels real good,” Jackson said with a smile. Each of the Vietnam veterans were given a commemorative pin to mark the 50th anniversary of the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

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