Celebrating National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Next Tuesday, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Why March 29? Because on March 29, 1973, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) was disbanded and the last U.S. combat troops departed the Republic of Vietnam.

Vietnam veterans first got their own holiday the following year — even before the fall of Saigon in 1975 — thanks to President Richard Nixon, who declared March 29 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. But not until 2012 did the push for a national observance get underway.

That year, President Obama issued a proclamation calling upon all Americans to observe March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day with programs, ceremonies and other activities that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — particularly how we treated our troops who served there,” President Obama said in his remarks. “You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.”

In 2017, National Vietnam War Veterans Day was established as an official observance. Now in its fifth year, National Vietnam War Veterans Day is the occasion for hundreds of celebrations and events nationwide — all held to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.

More than 3.2 million people served between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975. But those numbers are dwindling: More than 500 Vietnam veterans pass every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. So the time to thank them is now.

Take some time out in the next couple weeks to observe National Vietnam War Veterans Day by visiting a veterans memorial or attending a commemorative event; thanking a Vietnam veteran personally with a call, card or visit; or volunteering your time with a veterans organization.

You can also donate your used clothing and household goods to ClothingDoanations.org year-round to fund programs that help honor those who served by staging commemorative events and offering direct assistance when needed. The nation’s veterans thank you for your support!

Celebrate Wreaths Across America Day With VVA

Saturday, Dec. 18, is now officially Wreaths Across America Day thanks to the passage of a Senate resolution introduced by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. It’s the first national recognition of a movement that has been active for three decades, placing wreaths on the graves of veterans nationwide during the holiday season.

“We have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms,” Wreaths Across America (WAA) says. “In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.”

Wreaths Across America began 30 years ago when Maine wreathmaker Morrill Worcester delivered 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia as a gesture of thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their country. This year, a convoy of Gold Star families, veterans and well-wishers will transport 12 truckloads of wreaths to the national cemetery, making stops at multiple events along the way.

“For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” says Karen Worcester, WAA’s executive director. “This year, we’re hoping that supporters will once again join us in lining the roadways safely and welcome the mission into their communities.”

If you can’t make it to Arlington or a location along the convoy route, consider joining one of the more than 3,100 Wreaths Across America events to be held across the country on Dec. 18. Vietnam Veterans of America chapters help stage many local WAA functions each year as part of their civic fundraising efforts.

“Wreaths Across America is a powerful demonstration of respect and appreciation for our veterans — both those that we’ve lost and those still with us,” Sens. Collins and King said in a joint statement. “We are so proud that this heartfelt expression of gratitude originated in our great state and has become an enduring symbol of our nation’s gratitude for veterans’ valor and sacrifice.”

Visit Wreaths Across America to find out more, sponsor a wreath or get involved at the local level. Visit VVA on the web to find out about nearby chapter initiatives and #donate. And consider #donating to ClothingDonations.org this holiday season. The nation’s #veterans and veteran families appreciate the recognition and support. Happy Holidays!

Honoring Your Heroes on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day promises to be a jubilant one. With a surge in vaccinations against COVID-19 — especially among the aging members of the veteran population — towns can again honor the memory of the more than 1.3 million people who have given their lives for the nation since 1775.

The Organizing Blog urges readers to get out and commemorate these heroes while observing proper social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Many parades are back after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic, and outdoor activities remain relatively low-risk, especially for the vaccinated.

The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a great time to have a cookout, go to the beach, or shop the garage sales. But you can make time to #honor those who died in service to their country before, during or after engaging in the #summer fun.

Reader’s Digest suggests decorating for the event, visiting a cemetery to place a flag and flowers on a grave, or watching a war movie. You can also observe a moment of silence privately during the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on May 31.

This Memorial Day, we should also give special remembrance to nearly 600,000 citizens who have lost their lives to a dreaded disease in the last 18 months. (That’s more lives lost than in all of World War II.) And let’s also remember the heroic health care workers and volunteers who are on the front lines of the war on COVID.

While Memorial Day is designed to honor the deceased, you can support living veterans by writing letters to active-duty troops overseas or dropping off treats at the local veterans home. And if there are any veterans among your family and friends, this would be a great time to pay them a visit, take them to lunch or give them a call.

The Organizing Blog feels duty-bound (pun intended) to remind readers that it makes helping veterans easy. We pick up your donations of unwanted, lightly used clothing and household goods and resell them to fund veteran housing, health care, events and initiatives. Gather your donations and visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a free, contactless #donation pickup.

This year, let’s honor the memory of those we’ve lost in a way that feels reverent and genuine. But let’s not forget that there are heroes still walking among us.

Observing Vietnam Veterans Day Safely

March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day — an opportunity to remember the 9 million American men and women who served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during U.S. involvement in Vietnam from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 7, 1975 — some 6 million of whom are living today.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and hundreds of partners will continue the special 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War that launched in 2012 this year. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA recommends remembering veterans with socially distanced community activities from March 25 – March 29.

“This is an opportunity for all Americans to recognize and thank our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice during one of America’s longest wars,” the VA Blog says. “Outside of these dates, we should remember that we can always thank and welcome home Vietnam veterans any time of the year.”

While in-person events are challenging to stage safely, the VA invites well-wishers to reach out to Vietnam veterans who live in remote areas, are physically unable to attend commemorative events or are living in nursing homes with a thank-you card, call or Zoom conference.

Honor Flight organizations are working with VSOs to create Honor Parade routes in many communities. These outdoor events pass by veterans’ homes at a safe distance to protect them from the spread of the coronavirus. Vietnam Memorial walls will also appear in many locations — many of them supported by VVA chapters nationwide. Here’s a short list of commemorative events.

Hundreds of observances will take place, and the VA urges participants to celebrate and honor veterans safely. Many events get some funding from your generous donations of lightly used clothing and household goods to ClothingDonations.org.

So clean out a closet and #donate; call, text or write a veteran; or take part in a safe, socially distanced event to thank a Vietnam veteran for their service. They will appreciate the consideration on National Vietnam War Veterans Day — or any day of the year.

Discounts Thank Veterans for Their Service

One way businesses salute the nation’s veterans and current service members is to offer them special discounts on Veterans Day. Chains such as Baker’s Square, Red Robin and California Pizza Kitchen offer a free meal with proof of service, while retailers such as Walgreen’s, Dollar General, Target and Publix will offer percent-off and other deals over the long weekend. What’s more, the national parks will waive admission for everyone this Veterans Day — and give disabled veterans free Lifetime Access Passes in gratitude for their service.