Vietnam Vets Honored During Cape Cod Ceremonies

HYANNIS – Vietnam War veterans were honored on Cape Cod Thursday with events in Bourne and Hyannis.

By Presidential Proclamation in 2012, March 29this Vietnam Veterans Day. The date commemorates when the last American troops left Vietnam on March 29, 1973.

A morning ceremony was held at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.

Another commemoration took place in the afternoon at the Barnstable Senior Center, hosted by the Cape Cod Vet Center.

Director Jocelyn Howard said those who gave their lives had “their futures cut short.”

“And the families of those who did not return experienced the loss of their family members,” she said.

58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War and 6.6 million veterans of the war are alive today in the United States.

“It’s probably the most misunderstood event in American history,” said guest speaker Ralph Negron, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who served as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“In the dust of the two sides, the hawks and the doves, the loss and sacrifice of those who fought was lost,” he said.

“This (honoring veterans) should have been done 50 years ago,” he said.

Negron said he and his fellow vets rarely talked about the politics of the war, until 1975.

“When Saigon fell, I’ll never forget it. That moment was frozen in time. Every Marine who died in the war flashed before my mind,” he said.

U.S. combat activity ended in 1973. Saigon fell to North Vietnam in 1975, ending all U.S. involvement.

18 is the largest age group of those who died. The average age was around 23.

Many vets spoke during the Hyannis event, remembering their experiences and saying it was important to honor the lives of those lost.

Some thanked their fellow vets from other services for being there for them in times of crisis.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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