Ceremony honors Vietnam War veterans

 

Michael O’Conner with the Dover Fire Pipes & Drums plays Amazing Grace on the bag pipes during Vietnam Veterans Day at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — At the Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony Saturday afternoon, keynote speaker Rosely Robinson stressed the importance service members always being welcomed back home.

That hasn’t changed since the conflict in southeast Asia decades ago, she said, and there’s a specific mission to continue forward.

The founder of the state’s chapter of A Hero’s Welcome Delaware mission is “making sure all our military veterans get a proper welcome home.

“(I enjoy) taking moms and dads to children’s schools to surprise them.”

Air Force veteran Kenneth L. Benson, who served in Vietnam, brought his great grandson Rhett with him to the event.

“It’s vital to our future that he’s here,” Mr. Benson said. “I hope he understands the sacrifice of the men before his generation and hope that he will serve in some branch of the service,”

Said 9-year-old Rhett about his great grandfather, “I’m very proud of him.”

Another Vietnam veteran, Navy retiree T.J. Healy Jr., looked around at the crowd of 175 or so and said “We all support each other.”

Founder of the Delaware chapter of A Hero’s Welcome Delaware Rosely Robinson was the keynote speaker. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mr. Healy said he “had no clue about what the war was about when I was there” and had only determined in passing decades that “it was really political.

“Would I do it again? Absolutely, and I suspect most of my fellow service members feel the same way.”

Joe Startt Jr., president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 said, “I really want to thank everyone for being here.

“If it wasn’t for everyone out here we wouldn’t have what we have today,”

Emcee Dave Skocik, president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition, saluted for Mr. Startt as a man who “speaks from the heart and leads from the front.”

Ms. Robinson, who came to the United States from Brazil with her father in 1962 and became an American citizen, spoke of the freedoms protected here by veterans in a democratic society.

“Freedom of speech (means) I can voice my opinion, challenge others and express my views,” she said.

Continuing to expand on what’s great about America, Ms. Robinson pointed to the law and order of living “in relative safety” and “we might not have the most perfect criminal justice of the system” but it’s still the envy of all nations.

In this democracy, the speaker stressed, “We the citizens are in charge of our own destiny and this gives me comfort.”

Delaware National Guard Major General Carol Timmons began her military career around the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s, and described them as “some of the most humble, yet highly decorated” veterans who set a high bar of camaraderie while being “truly some of the most quality people in our society.”

Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard Carol A. Timmons speaks during Vietnam Veterans Day at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen welcomed home “Vietnam Veterans, American heroes one and all.”

Mr. Skocik made sure that the women who served their country in Vietnam, many as nurses, were not forgotten either, for their “lifesaving services.”

The event at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park at 760 S. Little Creek Road was hosted by Kent County Chapter 850 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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