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April 06. 2013 10:12PM

A fitting welcome: NH thanks Vietnam veterans

In some respects, but for the shape of their caps and the cut of their hair (for those who still had hair), those war veterans welcomed home in Concord Saturday a week ago could have been standing there almost 150 years before, at the end of America's Civil War.

In this case, however, the welcome was long overdue. The Vietnam War veterans in attendance, and perhaps some who didn't attend, seemed truly gratified by the day, by the crowd, and by the words of elected officials and event organizers.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte spoke of how towns across our little state saluted Vietnam veterans at town meetings this year.

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter spoke of being a teenager "watching the war" on television and then watching friends and classmates leave to fight.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen spoke the simple "thanks" and "welcome home" that these veterans wanted to hear. (Where, by the way, was Rep. Ann Kuster, whose district includes Concord?)

It was former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua who sponsored the legislation making March 30 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. He modestly said he had plenty of help with the effort.

Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran John O'Brien of Orford personally sent letters to towns across the state asking them to honor their vets. Many did.

Emcee Peter St. James, who has made remembering our troops and veterans his personal passion for years, and the New Hampshire National Guard did a first-class job with a simple, solid and dignified event.

It was New Hampshire through and through.


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