Save the Date: Kowall announces Detroit event in May honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Thursday asked interested parties to save the date for a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony sponsored by the Detroit VA Healthcare System on Saturday, May 21 — Armed Forces Day — in Detroit in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Kowall is encouraging his constituents and all interested Michiganders to attend.

“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 the event, made possible by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, at Cass Park in Detroit. The formal lapel-pinning ceremony will be held across the street on the steps of the historic Masonic Temple.

Kowall will speak at the event, and Veteran Service Officers will be on hand to answer questions and conduct on-site registration. In addition, Kelly Trudell will perform a special tribute song, the “Sound of Hope.”

The event will include the American Legion Riders and Rolling Thunder Motorcycle procession. Kowall said that all veteran motorcycles are welcome.

The symbolism attached to the Commemoration’s 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,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

In addition to the lapel pin, Vietnam era veterans will be provided with a poster for their branch of service and “A Grateful Nation Thanks You” bumper sticker.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are often held in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall or American Legion post. Kowall partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“We appreciate the commitment by Senator Kowall as he joins us to honor our heroes,” said Bill Browning, chief, Volunteer and Community Relations at the Detroit VA Healthcare System and lead coordinator for the event. “This is another way we say ‘thank you’ to those men and women for their service to our country.”

A special part of the lapel-pinning ceremonies is when the veterans gather for a group photo and indicate their name, branch of service, and dates served.

“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.

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Photo caption: Members of the Vietnam Era Veteran Planning Committee at Cass Park in Detroit. Pictured, from left: Steve Genther, Masonic Temple manager; Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake; Bob McDonald, Foundation for American Veterans; Dick Chatman, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 9; Tyrone Chatman, Veterans Foundation of Michigan; Paul Palazzolo, VVA Chapter 9; Phil Smith, Marine Corps League (kneeling); Mike Sand, VVA Chapter 9; Lynn O’Brien, district director, Office of Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall; Ed Tuggle, VVA Chapter 9; Detroit VA Healthcare System Volunteer and Community Relations Chief William R. Browning; Don Gore, GM Veterans Affinity Group; Ray Williams, Veterans Foundation of Michigan. Not pictured: George Adams, VVA Chapter 9.