Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Montgomery County Salute to Vietnam Veterans II

Here, I would like to say just a few more words about the Montgomery County, Maryland, Salute to Vietnam Veterans called, Honor and Gratitude and hopefully, include some pics from the event.

The morning of October 24th was clear and beautiful but somewhat cold. I rode over to Battley Harley Davidson really glad I had chosen to grab my heavier coat. When I arrived about 30 minutes early there were already a number of riders from Nam Knights in the parking lot. As the morning wore on quite a few more showed up. In the end we had, at the last count I heard, 36 Nam Knight members and 24 non members for a total of 60. A few more may have rolled in before we actually took off.
A few of the riders

We were escorted by a fairly large contingent of Montgomery County Police on bikes and in cruisers and they made the trip over to the Honor and Gratitude site, at the Universities of Shady Grove, safe and uneventful. Thanks a lot guys for a job well done!

Upon arrival we were all gathered in front of the Vietnam era Huey for photos.

                                                                                          Photo by Sean M. Walsh

Later, the Huey took off and was joined by another that had been circling the area and they flew off together, after buzzing the parking lot in farewell.

Inside the place was packed. We were not sure how many would actually show up, but every seat was taken and there were people standing in the rear, in doorways, and out in the hallway.

Bob Scheiffer, recently, of CBS news was the host and introduced each speaker. He was most professional and eloquent, as we have come to expect from him. A little side note is that Mr, Scheiffer usually gets a large chunk of change for speeches and appearances, he refused even one cent for this, he wanted to be part of it. Thank you, sir.
Bob Scheiffer and Ike Leggett
Many politicians and other came to pay their respects and were well received by the group of vets, their families, friends, and well wishers.

Cmdr. Everette Alvarez, the first pilot shot down over north Vietnam and a resident of the Hanoi Hilton for 8 and 1/2 years spoke for the rest of the POW's in attendance. There were 5, in total, and they said it was the first time that all five county residents had been in the same room together since coming home. To say that it was moving would be a gross understatement.

The event had been planned for about 90 minutes but ended up pushing three hours, so many people wanted to speak. How does one say no to someone who wishes to finally say Welcome Home after more than 40 years?

You can find a film of the whole, inside, activity here:

Portions of the documentary that is being made about Nam vets from Montgomery County were shown and were warmly received. many, many people came up to speak to me after they were shown. It was quite an honor to have been among those chosen for this effort and I am humbled to have been included among these heroes. I am no hero, but these guys had amazing stories, I still don't quite know why I was amongst them, but I, as I said, am honored.

There were a number of tables from different organizations in the foyer of the building: The VA, VVA groups, Gold Star Mothers and a number of others. My table for A Means to Heal was very well received and I spent a long time talking with many people about my travels and various memorials I have visited. I want to thank everyone who stopped by and the many of those who later checked out my site. The number of visits jumped dramatically after the event. I hope that this continues and that the word about A Means to Heal continues to spread. I always assure people that "there is nothing for sale" on the site, just info for vets and those interested.

I heard, just today, that the state of Maryland is planning a huge event in the spring of 2016. Called LZ Maryland, it will be held at the State Fair Grounds in Timonium, near Baltimore. As I learn more, I will update you here.

The picture portion of this post did not go as planned. If I figure out the texchnical stuff, I will post some pics at a later date.

OK, next time, on the 9th of November, I will post a new site from Pennsylvania, so join me, as usual, at 9:00am.

To see other memorial sites from anywhere in the nation, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

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