LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Steve Bieda on Thursday announced they are sponsoring a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony on Monday, March 20 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.
Kowall, R-White Lake, and Bieda, D-Warren, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Fraser to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans, Gold Star Mothers and their families. They encourage all interested residents and veterans to join them in paying tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.
Kowall said the event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6691, 17075 Anita Ave., in Fraser. The Post 6691 Auxiliary will serve lunch.
RSVP to Post Commander Larry Rosseel at LPRosseel@comcast.net or Lynn O’Brien in Kowall’s office at 517-373-0563.
Gold Star Mothers Elsie Mannerow and Mary Jean Linville, whose sons were killed in action in Vietnam, will be the guests of honor. Each will receive an “In Memory Of” pin exclusively presented to Gold Star Mothers. Teri Johnson, president of the Michigan department of Gold Star Mothers, will attend the ceremony. Johnson’s son, Army Sgt. Joe Johnson, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.
The lawmakers will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin 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,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”
The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense, and then formally launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events for the veterans and their families.
“Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life,” Kowall said. “This ceremony is a way to recognize veterans of the Vietnam War era, Gold Star Mothers, and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”
“This ceremony is an opportunity for us to show those who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve,” Bieda said. “It is a privilege to participate in honoring the sacrifice that our state’s Vietnam veterans made as they served us.”
Kowall has held numerous events, in both Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.
“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.
Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.