Locals gather for Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America local chapter #594 were celebrating Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day Wednesday, catching up with members of their chapter over a few cold drinks.
March 30 was declared Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Day by Congress as recently as last week, according to Steve Nankervis.
Chapter 594’s mission, as well as the mission of all VVA members, is to ensure that no soldier, regardless of the generation in which they served, is ever forgotten.
As they were neither welcomed home as heroes or recognized as having served their country following their tours in Vietnam, Nankervis said it is important to make certain the newest generation of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t treated the same way.
“We want to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself,” he added.
Nankervis estimates 10,000 to 15,000 Vietnam vets live in Lee County, with Cape Coral boasting at least a thousand vets, he said.
According to Nankervis, 390 Vietnam veterans die each day, which makes it even more crucial to reach out to the other generations, especially the younger soldiers.
“We’re welcoming all vets with open arms,” he said. “They’re going to have to take over … someone is going to have to keep it going.”
Some food, a few beers and cake was how the members of #594 celebrated the day, but next year they plan on making more of a ceremony out of the occasion.
Nankervis said Vietnam vets “live in the shadow” of World War II veterans, as the Vietnam War was never embraced by the country in the same way.
He tries to share his stories with his kids and grandkids, as do other members of the chapter, and try to keep the history alive in the minds of local school kids.
“We’re all getting older,” he said, “but we will never again let one generation of vets abandon another.”