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Vietnam veterans honored and "welcomed home" in Montana

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Posted at 8:37 AM, Apr 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 10:37:21-04

HELENA — Friday, March 29, is Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. A ceremony was held at the state capital to honor all Vietnam veterans.

“In 2011 they decided that we needed to have a recognition for returning Vietnam veterans. They never did get an official end of anything,” said Raymond Read, the Director of the Montana Military Museum.

The ceremony started off with a veteran’s honor walk around the capital ending with a ceremony at the POW MIA plaque. There they laid a wreath before heading inside to the Rotunda.

Soldiers that served in Vietnam did not always receive a warm welcome home like modern veterans, or the veterans that came before them.

At the time, Vietnam veterans often saw protests on their return.

Key speaker Ken Rosenbaum recalled his own experience.

“We were not welcomed home when we came home. In fact, during that period I came home, end of 1970, and we were told not to even wear our uniforms because there was a lot of people that we’re not happy about Vietnam,” Rosenbaum, a Vietnam Veteran said.

The event recognizes all Vietnam veterans, whether they volunteered or were drafted.

Over 36,000 Montanans served during the Vietnam war. 268 were killed in action.

At the event, 22 were recognized as prisoners of war or missing in action, 17 of which have not yet returned home.

“We have to remember our past. If we don’t, we are doomed to repeat it, and we did that here today. I told some of my story in Vietnam flying helicopters,” said Rosenbaum.

The main ceremony inside was opened with the Eagle and Flag song by the Magpie Drummers.

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Lieutenant Governor, Kristen Juras attended and read the Governor’s proclamation of March 29 officially being Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

In 2011 House Bill 255 established March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day and in 2017 it was amended to be March 29.