Vietnam War 50th anniversary to be remembered at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery
Rick Neale, Florida Today Published 4:26 p.m. ET March 27, 2019 | Updated 5:23 p.m. ET March 28, 2019
Many U.S. troops were teenagers when they were drafted to serve during the Vietnam War. Conversely, today’s teens might have a Vietnam War-era grandparent — but many of them know little about the controversial conflict, Marylou Wade said.
“When (our troops) came home from the war, they were spit on, disrespected. History books just kind of forget to put some of that in there,” she said.
Wade chairs a committee that is organizing a Vietnam War 50th anniversary ceremony Saturday morning at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.
“The high schoolers, they don’t know anything about the war. The whole event is to recognize and thank our Vietnam veterans. There were no big parades like there used to be when the troops came home,” Wade said.
“So this is just a small thing that can be done to thank our veterans,” she said.
The event starts at 10 a.m. at the Scottsmoor cemetery’s flag assembly area, 5525 U.S. 1. A Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter flyover will kick off the proceedings.
Keynote speaker is Floyd “Hal” Kushner, who was a Vietnam prisoner of war from 1967-73. He described his homecoming experience in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “The Vietnam War.” Today, he is a Daytona Beach ophthalmologist.
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The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is an ongoing, 13-year event. President Barack Obama launched the commemoration on Memorial Day 2012 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event extends through Veterans Day 2025.
“The Commemoration honors all United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that today there are 6.4 million living Vietnam veterans and 9 million families of those who served in this time frame,” the event website states.
Vietnam War veterans who attend Saturday’s ceremony can receive 50th anniversary lapel pins.
Volunteers will also recite the names of Vietnam War veterans who were interred at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery this past year.
The Valiant Air Command’s C-47 “Tico Belle” — which participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy — will perform a flyover to close out the ceremony.
Dennis Vannorsdall, Brevard County veteran services manager, will emcee the event. Organizers expect a crowd of about 400.
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery hosted a previous Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony in March 2016