SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On Wednesday, veterans, families, friends, and officials gathered at the flagpole outside Sylacauga’s Municipal Complex to mark the first National Vietnam War Veterans Day. For some there, it felt long overdue.

An array of flags representing each of the country’s military branches blew gently in the spring breeze as warriors arrived, talked, shook hands, and even hugged one another as they greeted.

Jon Hall, President of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 945, welcomed everyone to “a celebration, not a ceremony” before introducing Pastor Russell Gooden of Marble City Baptist Church, who delivered an opening prayer. The veterans were called to attention and delivered a salute as Mickey Green led in singing the national anthem.

Mayor Jim Heigl presented a Proclamation about the day to Hall, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Edward Jenkins, a U.S. Army veteran. Other speakers included Marine veteran Mike Pearson, Margaret Smith representing Congressman Mike Rogers, Judge Billy Atkinson, and Judge Barry Vaughn.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed Senate Bill 305, the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, which had been introduced in February by Senator Pat Toombs of Pennsylvania. The significance speaks to the thousands of veterans who served directly and indirectly during the Vietnam War, controversial around the globe and especially in the United States. When troops — many of whom were drafted into service — returned home, there were no ticker tape parades, no welcome home celebrations, and many were threatened and treated poorly.

The March 29th event recognized those in the area who served and, according to the federal act, a day on which the flag should especially be displayed.

Dustin Harmer for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.