Photos by DAVID SWEARINGEN
ERATH COUNTY (August 22, 2016) – Approximately 140 Vietnam veterans were honored with a U.S. Vietnam War pin and an official certificate of appreciation during a ceremony Monday at the First Baptist Church Paradigm building.
In addition to Congressman Roger Williams presenting veterans with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin, honorees also shook hands with officials from the American Legion Turnbow-Higgs Post 240 and Representative Dr. J.D. Sheffield (District 59).
The honor is part of a national commemoration that spans more than 12 years.
The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act empowered the Secretary of Defense to conduct a commemoration program on behalf of the nation. The official commemoration of the Vietnam War began on Memorial Day 2012 and concludes on Veteran’s Day 2025. It was declared by a proclamation signed by President Barack Obama on May 25, 2012 at the inaugural event at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., according to the commemoration website, www.vietnamwar50th.com.
“As the President stated, we, as a nation, will commemorate the 50th anniversary over a long period of time, as many Americans served and sacrificed over that long period of time,” the website explains.
The pins serve as a collective symbol of appreciation for military service and the sacrifice of veterans and their families.
The face of each pin depicts an eagle, representing courage, honor and dedicated service; a blue circle, matching the cannon of the American flag and signifying vigilance, perseverance and justice and matching the official seal of the Vietnam War Commemoration; a laurel wreath, representing victory, integrity and strength; stripes, also representing the American flag; and six stars representing the six allies – Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States.
The back of the pin is embossed with the message “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” along with the official name of the commemoration to remind the honored veteran of the nation’s memento of gratitude.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 9 million Americans actively served in U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. The VA estimates almost 7 million of those Veterans are alive today, with almost 542,000 of them counted as Texas residents in the fiscal year 2014.