FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 18, 2014) – On September 25 people from across the Commonwealth will gather in Frankfort for ceremonies at the Vietnam War Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war fought against Communism in southeast Asia. The event is one of nearly 1,000 being held across the country to honor and remember those who fought in that war. The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and the subsequent events in Kentucky, other states and by the federal government came about from passage of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized the Secretary of Defense to create a program that would, according to the group’s website, ‘thank and honor those veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.’ When the Vietnam War was at its height in the late 1960’s, the United States had more than a half-million troops committed to the conflict. And when the war came to an end in 1975, more than 58,000 Americans had been killed, and another 153,000 were wounded. The soldiers who fought in Vietnam saw combat action an average of 240 days in year, compared to only 40 days in four years for infantry fighting in the Pacific campaign during World War II. At that time the Vietnam War was not a popular war, and many of our troops returning home, including my own brother Wilford, were not given the recognition, support, and thanks due to them. But as the decades have passed, our nation and our people have begun the long overdue task of recognizing the service and sacrifice of our military in Vietnam. Recently the White House honored two veterans for their actions during the Vietnam War by awarding them the Congressional Medal of Honor, including Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins of Alabama, who was recognized for his actions and bravery during an assault by North Vietnam troops on Camp A Shau in March 1966, and Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat of Oklahoma who saved the lives of his troops when he used his body to cover a grenade. Sgt. Maj. Adkins and Spc. Sloat are two of the now 256 members of the armed services who been award the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions in combat during the Vietnam War. It is essential we continue to honor those who served our country in Vietnam between 1955 and 1975. As of 2010, nearly 1,700 Americans are still listed as missing in action in Vietnam, and we never forget the sacrifice they and their families made for our nation. Honoring the actions of our Vietnam War veterans, both living and deceased, is long overdue.
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