“Today’s ceremony was more than I hoped for,” Kowall, R-White Lake, said at the event. “Giving Vietnam veterans and their families due honor and respect was long overdue. The turnout was fantastic. May we continue to remember the sacrifice veterans and their families have made for us.”
The “Michigan Says Thanks” event highlighted the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and Vietnam War era families, and it paid tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.
Twenty-five historical stations were displayed on the north and south lawns for event attendees to visit. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) hosted one of the historical stations. An MVAA service officer answered questions and made follow-up appointments regarding benefits such as disability compensation, pension, aid and attendance, and dependent indemnity compensation.
The major sponsors of the event were Vietnam Veterans of America Detroit Chapter 9, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Domino’s Pizza, and Breitung Township Traveling Memorial.
A lapel-pinning ceremony was held throughout the event. Volunteers from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration fastened lapel pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
“The symbolism attached to the Vietnam veteran lapel pins is significant,” Kowall said. “The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”
Kowall hosted a formal ceremony presentation from 12:30 to 1 p.m. to thank and honor Vietnam veterans. The presentation included:
• Color guard and bagpipe procession;
• National Anthem sung by Joanna Lauren;
• Invocation by Larry Vollink, Veterans Affairs chaplain, Ann Arbor;
• Guest Speaker: retired U.S. Army Capt. Jim Dunn, deputy director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency;
• Vocal performance by Kelly Trudell;
• Recognition of spouses of Vietnam veterans;
• Wreath presentation by Daughters of the American Revolution;
• Recognition of legislators who are veterans; and
• Closing prayer honoring those we’ve lost since their return from Vietnam.
Many attendees were moved by the event.
“I joined Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 to make sure that what happened to the Vietnam veterans when they came home will never happen again,” said Vietnam Era Veteran Pablo Guzman. “As long as I’m around I will be doing this from my heart.”
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