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Efforts made to honor local Vietnam War veterans

February 12, 2017

MOUNT CARMEL — For months, the Mount Carmel Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution and United States of America Military Veterans have been searching to honor local Vietnam War veterans. Yet, some are slipping through the cracks.

In May of 2012, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation recognizing the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, which has aimed to honor the 7 million living Vietnam veterans and families of the 9 million who served. Regardless of where they served, veterans that were on active duty anytime during the time period of Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, are eligible to receive the Vietnam Service Lapel Pin.

The proclamation stated the 50th anniversary commemoration would last from Memorial Day 2012 through Veteran’s Day 2025.

Since the commemoration has started, NSDAR local representative Barb Easter has been presenting Vietnam War Commemorative Anniversary Certificates for valor, service and sacrifice in addition to the lapel pins at Mount Carmel High School reunions. Residents were able to watch as a dozen veterans received their pins on Veteran’s Day last November, some choking back the emotions.

Some veterans may not have heard about the program. Others may feel that they are undeserving of such recognition because they did not serve in Vietnam or fight in combat. But, no matter where or how a veteran served — the key is they served. They answered the call to protect their country.

“The recognition is not just for them — it’s for the community,” said Mount Carmel veteran and USAMV representative Calvin Seybold. “It’s not just their service, it’s their service to the nation and how that effects all generations. So to be recognized in that capacity for service sets a precedence for the young people coming up so there’s a reason for them to do it.”

“I’ve seen letters and heard comments from grandchildren once they found out that grandpa had served — and all of a sudden they were so proud of grandpa. And the grandkids need to know (they served),” said Tom Ford, local veteran and American Legion member.

The pin itself has multiple meanings behind the detailed design. An eagle represents courage, honor and dedicated service to the nation, and the blue circle symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice. A laurel wreath depicted on each pin represents victory, integrity and strength.

The stripes behind the eagle mirror the American flag, while the stars mark the six allies who served, sacrificed and fought alongside one another during the war — Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the U.S.

“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” is embossed on the back of the pin.

All Vietnam veterans who have not received a pin are asked to attend the American Legion meeting on March 7 at 6 p.m. at the Mount Carmel VFW. Veterans are asked to bring their DD214 forms (discharge papers), or someone to vouch for their time of service.

If you know a family member or friend that meets the criteria of service between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, please contact DAR representative Barb Easter at deweyeaster@hotmail.com or USAMV representative Calvin Seybold at seyboldc@hotmail.com.

For more information about the commemoration, visit www.vietnamwar50th.com.