LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Friday announced that he is hosting a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony on Saturday, July 9 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.
Kowall is presenting the pins as part of “Operation LZ” to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. He encourages all interested residents and veterans to join him to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.
Kowall said the lapel pinning, made possible, in part, by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC), will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Wurtsmith Air Museum, 4071 E. Van Ettan St., in Oscoda.
The senator will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to any U.S. veteran 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 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,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “This lapel-pinning 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.”
Kowall said that Kelly Trudell will sing the National Anthem to open the event and will end the ceremony by performing “The Sound of Hope.” Trudell has been awarded the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award for her work with veterans, soldiers and their families.
The event will include the Pinning Ceremony, Memorial Chair Ceremony, The Wall that Heals, and other displays, events and activities for Vietnam veterans, family, friends and the public.
Further information about the event can be found at www.operationlzmichigan.org, and information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.
Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, 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.
The senator said he particularly enjoys when veterans gather for a group photo and personally announce their name, branch of service and dates served.