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.

Honoring Veterans on Memorial Day

Memorial Day was established to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers, but has expanded over the years to include all veterans of the armed forces. To honor their service, attend a parade, lay some flowers and a miniature flag at a local gravesite, or invite a living veteran to your cookout; you can also probably find a veteran charity picnic in the area and lend your support. And when flying the flag, keep it at half-staff in remembrance until noon, Homes.com says, then raise it to full-staff at noon to symbolize the ongoing fight for freedom.

Keep Your Cookout Simple

There’s no better way to kick off the summer season than hosting a Memorial Day cookout. To make yours stress-free, keep it simple. Pick out easy main courses for the grill such as burgers, brats or chicken, and try healthy, cut-and-serve side dishes such as cucumber salad, grilled vegetables and corn. Invite your friends, offer outdoor games such as cornhole and croquet, and join in the fun. And as you celebrate the official start of summer, don’t forget to honor the nation’s veterans, many of whom gave their lives in service.

Decluttering Helps Bring Dignity

Not only do your donations to ClothingDonations.org help declutter your home, they also help fund VVA programs such as Uniforms for Final Salute, an initiative that Chapter 910 in Corpus Christi launched that ensures that homeless and indigent veterans are laid to rest in uniform and with dignity. Chapter members in the area have arranged funeral services and honor guards for more than a dozen of their brethren so far, and ClothingDonations.org has helped many thousands of people get rid of their unwanted stuff.

Ask a Veteran to Tell Their Story

Do you know a veteran or want to get to know one better? This Veterans Day, consider participating in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, which honors veterans by collecting and archiving their stories. The project welcomes recorded interviews, as well as materials such as letters, photos and diaries from veterans of all U.S. conflicts. You can collect a history easily using the project’s field kit, and once submitted, it will be uploaded to a Library of Congress database and committed to posterity.