Save the Date: Kowall and Proos announce Bridgman event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. John Proos on Wednesday announced they are sponsoring a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony on Friday, Feb. 24 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, and Proos, R-St. Joseph, are hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Bridgman to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans 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 (VWC), will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Bridgman American Legion Post 331, 4241 Legion St., in Bridgman. RSVP to American Legion Ladies Auxiliary President Kim Knuth at kimbrly567@aol.com.

Bridgman American Legion Post 331 Commander Dave Mutz will attend the ceremony, which will include light appetizers and a cash bar.

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, 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 that thank and honor 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 thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Proos agreed.

“We must never forget that America remains the beacon of liberty and hope in the world because courageous men and women have risked — and continue to risk — their lives for freedom,” Proos said. “All our veterans deserve our respect and appreciation. I encourage Southwest Michigan residents to come out and help us salute the enormous sacrifices and selfless dedication of our Vietnam veterans and their families.”

Kowall has held numerous events, both in 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.