Wednesday, March 30, will be a day for Vietnam Veterans to be honored and thanked like they probably have never been before. In celebration of the official State of Maryland designated Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, Hospice of the Chesapeake has planned an evening brimming with memories, tributes and honors to the men and women who served in the military during the Vietnam War era.
This is the second year the state will celebrate the commemorative day. Last year, at the request of Hospice of the Chesapeake’s We Honor Veterans Committee, legislation was introduced by state Senator John Astle and was the first bill signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. March 30 was chosen because it was the day in 1973 when the last troops were withdrawn from Vietnam.
With a year to plan this second celebration, the nonprofit has outdone itself. The free event will be held at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Hotel, 1739 W. Nursery Road, Linthicum, and begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., where Vietnam Veterans and their families can enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and camaraderie before the program begins.
As they enter the event, each Vietnam Veteran will be pinned with Vietnam Veteran lapel pin from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, which was authorized by Congress to thank and honor Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation. Hospice of the Chesapeake recently was named a commemorative partner of the commemoration, joining more than 8,000 local, state and federal organizations who have committed to assisting the nation in showing its gratitude to the 7.2 million living Vietnam veterans and the families of all 9 million who served.
During the social hour, a band will perform Vietnam War era music while the honored guests can learn about resources available to Veterans, visit the Maryland Public Television Salutes Vietnam Veterans Traveling Exhibit and see handmade patriotic quilts created by members of local quilting guilds to be given as gifts to Veteran patients during Honor Salutes.
The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature speakers who are predominantly Vietnam War Veterans, including retired Brig. Gen. John P. Rose, USA (Ret.), Senior Representative for the USA Vietnam War Commemoration; Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs George W. Owings III; Army Veteran Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam War Memorial Fund; and retired Rear Adm. Robert H. Shumaker, USN (Ret.) who is a former Prisoner of War.
Fort George G. Meade Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodwell L. Forbes, USA will lead an Honor Salute for the Vietnam Veterans in attendance as well as to remember those who have passed or are still missing in action. At 7:45 p.m., Annapolis High School Performing and Visual Arts students will premiere their documentary which features Vietnam Veterans telling their stories.
Registration is required by March 23 and preferential seating will be given to Vietnam Veterans and their families. To register, email [email protected] or call 443-837-1508.