LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Dave Robertson on Tuesday announced they are sponsoring a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony on Friday, Dec. 16 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.
Kowall, R-White Lake, and Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, are hosting the second “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Holly to give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. They encourage all interested residents and veterans to join them to pay tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home. U.S. Congressman Mike Bishop (MI-08) will join Kowall and Robertson.
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 Friday, Dec. 16, at the Holly Area Veterans Resource Center (HAVRC) in the Karl Richter Community Center, 300 East St., in Holly. For more information, contact HAVRC Chairman Joe Mishler at 810-348-9960.
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 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.
Speakers at the event will be Lt. Gary Huber, U.S. Army veteran, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 175, Genesee County; Joe Cylkowski, U.S. Army veteran, Holly American Legion Post 149; and Ina Golden, U.S. Navy veteran, secretary — Holly Area Veterans Resource Center, American Legion Post 149.
The invocation will be given by the Rev. Dr. Jennifer L. Smith, state chaplain of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Michigan. The American Legion 149 and VFW Post 5587, both of Holly, will post the colors.
“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.”
“We as Americans are forever indebted to those who answered our nation’s call during the Vietnam War,” Robertson said. “Freedom isn’t free, and our veterans know that better than anyone. For generations, military personnel and their families have made unimaginable sacrifices on a daily basis. Our objectives are to recognize those sacrifices, honor their service and show these individuals the respect they’ve earned.”
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.
Bishop hosted a similar event for Vietnam War veterans living in his congressional district in March with more than 160 veterans in attendance from Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.
“Our Vietnam War veterans’ service during our nation’s longest war was selfless and courageous,” Bishop said. “Years later, our nation still owes them a debt of gratitude that they were wrongfully denied when they returned home. We must also do our part to reach out to every single one of our local veterans with the proper care and assistance they deserve. We have a duty to serve and honor our American heroes — not just today, but every day.”
Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.