Boscawen ceremony will welcome NH's Vietnam veterans home
BOSCAWEN - On Saturday, for the first time, New Hampshire will officially welcome home those who served their country in Vietnam.
It's been 40 years since America left that country militarily.
Since then, Vietnam veterans have been honored and welcomed individually and in group settings around the state, especially in the past decades.
It's no secret that Vietnam vets weren't all honored and cheered for their service as veterans of America's other wars when they returned. And yet, over the years, they've been dedicated and hard-working advocates for their fellow veterans, and many display their love for their country at public events regularly and proudly.
"Even though they weren't treated right when they got home, they have been the most-involved veterans group in everything we do, they've been leading the charge," said Michael Horne, director of the N.H. Veterans Cemetery.
On Saturday at the N.H. Army National Guard hangar on Regional Drive in Concord, there will be bagpipes, an honor guard, and speeches from state VIPs and veteran group leaders as state veterans groups hold the state's first official Welcome Home ceremony for veterans of the Vietnam War.
Veterans, their families and the public are encouraged to attend.
Horne credits Al "Scout" Grow of Nashua for helping to establish the state law that officially proclaims March 30 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day."
Grow, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967-68 and now a retired transit police officer is national president of the Purple Heart Riders and a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
At the outset of the first Gulf War, Grow made a promise to himself that "no other service member that went off to war would ever have to go through what we did," he said. "We had to sneak home."
A welcome home, though 40-plus years later, "means a lot," Grow said.
"There are some (Vietnam vets) who don't want the attention, but they all appreciate it," Horne said. "But we're going to get this right and formally welcome them home."