• Photo by Roxanne Thompson/The Mexia News
    After the 50th year commemoration of the Vietnam War ceremony, held at Mexia’s VFW Lancaster Post 4694 on Saturday, Feb. 17, those attending took a moment to take a group picture.
  • Photo by Roxanne Thompson/The Mexia News
    Joe Blais, left, of Waco, with the Vietnam Veterans of America, presents a certificate of appreciation to Vietnam veteran George Black, of Mexia, at the 50th year commemoration of the Vietnam War, held at Mexia’s VFW Lancaster Post 4694 Post on Saturday, Feb. 17.
  • Photo by Roxanne Thompson/The Mexia News
    Glen Clark, left, with Veterans Pardners, affixes a commemorative pin to the blouse of Lillian Fite as part of the 50th year commemoration of the Vietnam War. The ceremony is being held each year through 2025. In a new initiative, widows and surviving children of Vietnam veterans are being presented the pins and certificates of appreciation that would have gone to their deceased loved ones.

Vietnam veterans ‘welcomed home’

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

Veterans of the Vietnam era and their families were recognized and honored for their sacrifices, at a Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration Saturday.

The event was co-sponsored by Veterans Pardners and VFW Lancaster Post 4694 in Mexia, and was held at the Post. The honorees were given certificates, medals and speeches in their honor.

Nearly 100 people attended the ceremony, and members of both sponsoring groups expressed gratitude to the veterans and their families.

In one part of the program, VFW Post Commander Lamar Evans explained the Missing Man table at the front of the stage, noting each element and describing its symbolism.

Later in the commemoration, Evans addressed the crowd again, reminding the Vietnam veterans they were not alone if they ever felt they had received less than a full measure of appreciation. He quoted English writer Rudyard Kipling, who wrote of the World War I era: “In times of war and not before, God and the soldier be adored; but in times of peace and all things righted, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.”

Similarly, Evans said, Hemingway wrote a short story in 1925 about a World War I soldier who returned home some time after the war had ended, to no welcome and no appreciation.

Ultimately, Evans commended veterans for their service, not only in the military but after they returned home, many serving as first responders, in service organizations, veterans organizations or running for public office.

Also speaking Saturday was Veterans Pardners founder and CEO Donna Pickett, who  talked about why she started the group and what they want to accomplish.

“We want you to know that we appreciate your service,” she said, “and the service of every veteran, and the family that stands behind you, for all the sacrifices and hardships. One of the reasons Veterans Pardners got its start was that, for some of us, saying ‘Thank you for your service’ – even though it was heartfelt and sincere – just did not cut it.”

In helping veterans and their families, Pickett found that many veterans, especially in rural areas, did not know what services they were eligible to receive; or if they knew the services existed, they did not know how to access them. She said the goal of Veterans Pardners is not only to help veterans but also their families, who often suffer and have no one to help them in practical ways.

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.

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