Broadway ceremony honors Vietnam vets

Apr. 2—BROADWAY — Community and county residents gathered Friday at the N.C. Veterans Memorial Pavilion to pay homage to honor the sacrifice on the Vietnam War Veterans Day celebration.

The veterans sat together on the lawn of the memorial on South Main Street, nearly all wearing baseball caps with their branch of service and units in which they served.

"May we never forget those who made the supreme sacrifice for life, liberty and justice for all," Broadway Mayor Donald Andrews said in his opening prayer. "May this be a timely reminder that freedom was purchased at a high cost."

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act was signed into law in 2017 and designates March 29 each year as the day to remember and recognize the service of Americans.

On March 29, 1973, the last troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and the last prisoners of war came home to America. Nearly 9 million Americans served in the war and more than 58,000 were killed.

"Vietnam vets hold a special place in my heart," Andrews said. "As many of you know, my dad served in Vietnam. He seldom talked about it."

What little Andrews learned of his father's service came from aunt and retired Gen. Dan Kelly McNeill, who led the U.S. Army Forces Command, based at Fort Liberty. He and Andrews' father both hailed from Duplin County.

"I cannot image the hell ... they went through over there," Andrews said. "My dad told me his primary mission was to come home."

When his father and other Vietnam veterans returned home, there were no parades, no celebrations, Andrews said.

"However, fortunately over time, our nation has come to understand what men and women experienced in Vietnam. In events like today, we honor and acknowledge their bravery, their patriotism, their service, and their sacrifice," Andrews said.

Boy Scout Troop 953 members presented the colors and the Pvt. John Grady Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which sponsored the event, presented a wreath to honor the veterans.