MIDDLE RIVER — In honor of Veterans Day, veterans from the Iraq and Afganistan Wars, Vietnam War, Korean War, and Word War II gathered at the Lamky Luther Whitehead Veterans Memorial in Holly Hills Memorial Gardens in Middle River.
The veterans were honored by their friends and family as well as several elected officials at the celebration Monday. Prayers and thanksgiving were given by Delegate Ric Metzgar and Senator Johnny Ray Salling, both R-6, and a proclamation was given by Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr. deeming November 11, 2019 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
”We honor and we thank all branches from all wars but today we give special recognition to our Vietnam veterans,” Olszewski said.
”Among the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice [during the Vietnam War], 147 were from Baltimore County. Their memory has been enshrined for all to see at the Baltimore County Vietnam Veterans Memorial.”
George W. Owings, Secretary for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs and a Vietnam veteran, explained that the Vietnam veterans were given this special “welcome home” celebration because many of them did not receive the “hero’s welcome” other veterans from Korea, World War II and World War I received when they returned home from war.
Recordings were played of Vietnam veterans describing how many people protested agist the Vietnam War and said how they were treated when they returned to the U.S.
Many of the veterans in the recording described being called “baby killers” and were spat on by people in the San Francisco airport. One veteran even said he threw away his uniform in the airport bathroom and changed into civilian clothes so that he wouldn’t be noticed and harassed by people.
Owings, along with other elected officials, said they were saddened at how divided the country was and that Vietnam veterans should be honored for doing what their country asked of them.
The Vietnam veterans gathered to receive the county and state proclamations from Olszewski and Owings and the ceremony then ended with everyone holding hands and singing “God Bless America.”