REMINDER: Kowall honoring Vietnam era veterans at Southgate event

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Monday reminded interested parties of a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony this Saturday, Aug. 13 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, is hosting the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” 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 event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC), will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at VFW Post 9283, 16200 Dix Toledo Road, in Southgate.

Those planning to attend should RSVP to Southgate VFW Commander Bill Ainsworth at

The senator 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 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 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.”

The guest speaker for the event will be Rich Bame, a former engine room repair apprentice in the U.S. Navy who was captured by North Korea in 1968 while serving on the U.S. Pueblo. Bame was a prisoner of war for nearly one year.

The American Legion Riders of Michigan motorcycle procession will open the ceremony. The staging area will be the Veterans Memorial Library in the Southgate City Complex at 12:30 p.m.  All bikes are welcome. Contact American Legion Post Commander Jim Austin at for more details.

The Presentation of Colors will be by the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4 Honor Guard. Hot dogs and beer will be served immediately following the ceremony.

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.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at