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Honoring Vietnam veterans

The Mississippi Senate approved a resolution last week designating March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in Mississippi.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 620 designates the day of recognition for this year, but Sen. Gray Tollison, who introduced the resolution, said the state Legislature will have to come back during session in 2017 to make the designation permanent since it was introduced late in this year’s session.

“I am proud to introduce the resolution on behalf of all Vietnam veterans in Mississippi,” Tollison said in an email.

President Barack Obama proclaimed March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in the United States, calling upon all Americans to observe the day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.

However, Mississippi is one of 14 states that still does not have a permanent designation for Vietnam Veterans Day.

Last year, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared March 22, 2014, as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Mississippi.”

To celebrate the designation, local veterans will have an informal get-together for all Vietnam veterans and their families on Tuesday at 3 p.m., at the Veterans Park on Veterans Drive across from the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford.

The public is invited, said Gene Hayes, local Vietnam veteran and author.

“Bring your own lawn chair and coolers,” he said. “No alcoholic beverages, please.”

Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided and donations will be accepted to offset costs. Hayes will read the resolution at 4 p.m.

The resolution calls for Vietnam veterans to be shown respect, honor and support.

“The Vietnam War is a story of service members of different backgrounds, colors and creeds who came together to complete a daunting mission. It is a story of Americans from every corner of our nation who left the warmth of family to serve the country they loved. … Thousands returned home bearing shrapnel and scars; still more were burdened by the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress, of Agent Orange, of memories that would never fade. More than 58,000 laid down their lives in service to our nation. Now and forever, their names are etched into two faces of black granite, a lasting memorial to those who bore conflict’s greatest cost…,” states the resolution.