Today hundreds of Vietnam veterans and their families gathered in the Missouri State Capitol, where they were honored by members of the House as well as Governor Mike Parson and Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe.
The ceremony was part of the continuing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of that conflict.
“It is our hope that today and each day forward that you will always know that your state legislature, along with those serving in the executive and the judicial branch and the people of our great State of Missouri have not forgotten you, our Vietnam veterans, and we will never forget your service. To you we are forever grateful,” Grant City Representative Allen Andrews (R) told the veterans and family members who filled the rotunda.
Andrews spearheaded the ceremony, which continues an annual tradition started by former state representative Pat Conway (D-St. Joseph) who left the legislature due to term limits.
“Unfortunately [for] many of you here today this will be the first time that you have been honored. This potentially may be the first time that you have been offered a sincere, ‘Thank you,’ for your service to our state and to our nation,” said Andrews.
Governor Parson, who served 6 years in the Army, said it wasn’t until he wore the uniform that he understood the importance of the U.S. flag and the Pledge of Allegiance.
“When I did figure out what it all meant, it wasn’t about me wearing the uniform. It wasn’t necessarily about you wearing the uniform. It was about all the people that wore the uniform before me and you. It was about the sacrifices they made for our county,” said Parson. “The only reason that we’re all here today, the only reason all of us have lived the American dream … is because of the sacrifices people made before you – the sacrifices to this country, to this service. They stood on solid ground for me and you.”
Parson said he also wanted to thank another group, “that normally don’t get to be recognized and sometimes we take them for granted.”
“Today I also want to say, ‘thank you,’ to the mothers, fathers, wives, children, relatives, and friends that so many times worried and prayed for us while we were overseas, while we were gone from home. They truly deserve distinction themselves for their service to the country by helping us when we served,” said Parson.
All the veterans who attended were pinned with a lapel pin proclaiming the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The pins were meant to recognize, thank, and honor those who served in that conflict. The pins were presented by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and several House members.
“Allow me to offer you our most sincere gratitude for the selfless service that you have provided to our country. This is a nation that is rich in tradition of heroism, of bravery, that is exhibited by outstanding individuals like you – Americans who put love of country before love of self,” said Andrews.