Roberta Day Idzorek, far left, the emcee for Tuesday’s event honoring Vietnam War veterans, poses with veterans recognized at the event and her fellow Valle Grande Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter members, Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Vietnam War veteran Victor Valenzuela, left, is greeted by VFW Post 8874 Cmdr. Roger Anaya after Valenzuela spoke Tuesday evening at the commemorative reception. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Eleanor Pinyan welcomes Vietnam War veterans Tuesday evening. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Vietnam War veterans in Los Alamos County were honored Tuesday evening at VFW Post 8874 during an event sponsored by the Valle Grande Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in partnership with some 11,000 organizations nationwide.
The event was part of the Vietnam Commemoration officially inaugurated by President Barack Obama in Memorial Day 2012. Under the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act signed into law in 2017 by President Donald Trump, every March 29 was designated as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Roberta Day Idzorek of the DAR, the emcee for Tuesday’s event, quoted President Trump’s proclamation saying the Commemoration is “to ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come”.
“We honor all those who answered our nation’s call to duty. We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who will honorably wear the uniform of our country. With conviction, our nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans”, that proclamation states.
The five objectives of the Commemoration are:
- To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans;
- To highlight the service of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Federal agencies and governmental and non-governmental organizations that served with, or in support of, the Armed Forces;
- To pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the Vietnam War;
- To highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during the Vietnam War;
- To recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies of the United States during the Vietnam War.
Vietnam War veterans present and honored at Tuesday’s event were: Jerry Boline, Eluterio Garcia, Gregg Geisler, Charles Knapp, Leland Lehman, Nick Mezins, James Nesmith and Victor Valenzuela
Unable to attend and also recognized were: Jack Boyd, Jim Douglas, George Vigil, Armando Valenzuela and David Valenzuela.
Idzorek said there are several reasons March 29 was chosen.
“March 29, 1973 was the day the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam was disestablished and the day the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam. It was also the day Hanoi released the last acknowledged prisoners of war,” she said.
She said the 9 million referenced in the President’s proclamation reflects the fact that the national Commemoration honors everyone who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 17, 1975, with no distinction being made between veterans who served in-country, in-theater or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period.
“All were called to serve and none could self-determine where they would serve and all were seen in the same way by a country that could not separate the war from the warrior. Each person who served during this period deserves our profound thanks,” Idzorek said.
She said Tuesday’s gathering was for three key reasons.
“First, to honor those from Los Alamos County who, in President Abraham Lincoln’s words, gave their ‘last, full measure of devotion’. Those, who to us are family, are also counted among the 58,318 men and women – their average age 23 years – whose names are engraved in the polished black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also known as ‘The Wall’, in Washington, D.C.,” Idzorek said. “Next, we recognize those who served, but are no longer among us, as well as their families, who endured untold sacrifices in supporting their service.”
She asked everyone who served on active duty at any time from 1 November 1955 to 15 May 1975, regardless of location, to stand to be humbly thanked in recognition of their service and sacrifice and to be acknowledged in the way they so richly deserve.
Idzorek noted that 1,589 veterans are still considered missing in action and that more than 350,000 carry both seen and unseen scars from the War. She said the vast received no recognition for their service or welcome home ceremonies hosted by their communities, but instead were encouraged to travel home, not in uniform, but in civilian clothes due to the unrest in the country.
“It is important that every one of you Vietnam War veterans and your families understand the prominent place you now occupy in the conscience of our nation and the remarkable measure of esteem in which you are held by friends, neighbors and countrymen,” she said.
The eight veterans were presented with a certificate and a commemorative pin embossed with the message, “A Grateful Nation Thanks And Honors You”.
Vietnam veteran Jerry Boline and his wife Nancy check out a commemorative pin presented to Jerry Tuesday evening at VFW Post 8874. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Daughters of the American Revolution Megan Farrell, left, and Linda Carol Alt were on hand Tuesday for the Vietnam War veterans reception. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Vietnam War veterans are asked to stand to be recognized during Tuesday’s 50th commemoration event at VFW Post 8874 sponsored by the Valle Grande Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Vietnam War veterans honored Tuesday evening during a commemorative reception sponsored by the Valle Grande Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution at VFW Post 8874 are, from left, Charles Knapp, Leland Lehman, Victor Valenzuela, Eluterio Garcia, Jim Nesmith, Jerry Boline, Gregg Geisler and Nick Mezins. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com