A Grateful Nation

September 9, 2020
Weekly Column

Today, military homecomings are met with open arms, tears of joy, parades, and celebrations – a concept that is a bit foreign to the nearly three million soldiers who returned home from the Vietnam War. 

Too many of our Vietnam-era veterans were not welcomed home properly, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. That’s why it’s important for me to look these leaders in the eye and tell them that our grateful nation is thankful for their service.

During the August in-state work period, I partnered with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration to present some of South Dakota’s Vietnam veterans with a token of our gratitude. In recent weeks I’ve hosted ceremonies for veterans in Winner, Mitchell, and Sioux Falls, and this week I met with thirteen of Rapid City’s finest.

Each veteran receives a lapel pin inscribed with the message, “A grateful nation thanks and honors you.” It’s a simple message, but it rings true. On the front face of the pin, a bald eagle stands center representing the courage, honor, and dedicated service to our nation. 

Every veteran I’ve met has had a unique story and experience particularly based on their occupational specialty while serving – from radio operator to infantryman, combat illustrator to Huey door gunner – everyone’s service looked different. 

There was one commonality between each of the men receiving this honor over recent weeks: not one of them asked for this recognition. Each veteran was nominated by a loved one, a wife, a daughter, a brother, or a fellow veteran. I’m grateful for those who took time out of their day to nominate these individuals. 

I want to ensure no one is missed, so if you or a loved one served in the Vietnam War please contact my Rapid City office at 605-646-6454. Our grateful nation is ready to thank and honor you.