Union County

Museum to celebrate Vietnam veterans

The Museum of the Waxhaws will host a Welcome Home Ceremony and USO style show for Vietnam veterans their families 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 3.

Jerry Kocsis, the event organizer, said the event grew from the success of a June 2014 celebration of the 70th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy. That event at the museum attracted 25 World War II veterans, including two actual survivors of the D-Day invasion.

Kocsis said he and the Museum Board of Directors agreed it was time to “rectify how Vietnam vets were treated after honorable service in that terrible war.”

To refresh the memory of readers who may not have been alive during the period 1961 to 1975, the United States started providing military advisers to the government of South Vietnam during the Kennedy Administration. In August of 1964, after an attack on the USS Maddox by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, Lyndon Johnson sought and received congressional approval to commit U.S. Military resources to protect any Southeast Asian country that was threatened by “Communist Aggression” without actually declaring war. This was the “Tonkin Gulf Resolution” that ultimately provided the legal underpinning for an enormous commitment of resources.

According to a report issued by the Vietnam Veterans Foundation, 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era.

The youngest veterans who actually served in Vietnam are 54 today. There are over 17,000 Vietnam veterans in Union County, according to a Veterans Administration census cited by Kocsis.

The basic Plan of the Day is that the museum will open at 10 a.m. with volunteers there to register the veterans.

At 11 a.m., there will be a ceremony to honor the veterans and at 1:30 p.m., entertainers will present a USO style show. Admission is free, and the entire range of museum exhibits and activities will be available, plus displays of arms, memorabilia and military vehicles of that period.

“We have the support of five Union County High School ROTC units, two Boy Scout Troops, Civil Air Patrol Cadets, and the Waxhaw police cadets to help us manage the hoped for large crowd of veterans, families and friends,” Kocsis said.

A replica of the Vietnam Wall is being made by school children in the Waxhaw area. They won’t replicate every name on the wall in Washington, but for all of those children who do participate, there will be an indelible history lesson.

Veteran support groups will be present to provide information ranging from filing for benefits to health counseling.

“We have the support of VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, and Vietnam Veteran Posts from around the region,” Kocsis said. “Our desire and hope is to have everyone who can come to support and welcome home these veterans the way it should have happened these many years ago.”

The museum is at 8215 Waxhaw Highway.

John Anderson is a freelance writer: jafortrel@aol.com.