Honoring Vietnam Veterans During the 50th Commemoration

At the Bountiful Music in the Park patriotic concert with the 23rd Army Band, Utah Voices was honored to recognize more than 50 Vietnam veterans and thank them for their services.  While the choir sang the touching “Song for the Unsung Hero,” the Vietnam veterans came to the front to receive a Vietnam 50th Commemoration book and pin. Many members of the audience were moved to stand and applaud the veterans throughout the song.

The special tribute read by Artistic Director Kelly DeHaan is below, along with photos from the event.

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Utah Voices is one of 10,000 organizations around the country dedicated to recognizing and honoring our nation’s Vietnam veterans during the Vietnam War Commemoration.

To launch the commemoration, President Barack Obama proclaimed:

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than three million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved…

As a grateful Nation, we honor more than 58,000 patriots –their names etched in black granite — who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know.We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen.

As veterans began returning home in the 60s and 70s, Utah was not the hotbed of anti-war activity that some places were. But all the same, veterans did not return to fanfare and parades. Many men and women who had answered their nation’s call experienced disdain and animosity as the war grew longer and deadlier.

Community leader Gail Miller said, “Our greatest regret as a state may be the missed opportunities to honor Utah’s returning veterans from Vietnam five decades ago. Those brave men and women risked their lives doing what their country asked them to do. The war was not their fault, but they were treated terribly when then came home.”

One Utah veteran said, “The words ‘thank you’ are something that took 45 years or better for some of us to hear.”

That is our goal today with thisconcert – to say ‘thank you’ to every veteran in our audience, and during this 50th commemoration especially to the men and women who served in Vietnam. Thank you for serving your country. Thank you for risking your life far from home. Thank you for enduring the loss of your friends far too young. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing now to make our communities and families stronger.

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