50th anniversary of Vietnam War remembered during Veteran’s Day ceremony
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, commonly known as Nov. 11, 1918, marks the end of major hostilities in World War I and the armistice with Germany. In a fitting manner, Nov. 11 marks Veterans Day.
Station residents honored the holiday in a Veterans Day ceremony that took place in front of the Commissary, Nov. 8, 2013.
“Commissaries are doing this worldwide,” said Lyn Cadavos, produce manager of the Commissary. “It’s important that we honor our veterans and the sacrifices they made. I’m from the Philippines and without the veterans, we wouldn’t have freedom there.”
The event also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. As such, the guest speaker for the event was Bob Bullion, a free agent English conversationalist speaker, Vietnam veteran and retired gunnery sergeant.
“The only thing we want people to recognize is that we fought just as hard as everybody else did, just as hard as they are now in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bullion. “That’s all we want to be recognized for, that we did our duty.”
Bullion said he was humbled by the invitation to speak at the ceremony.
“I do not think I should be the one to speak, there were other veterans that were in front of me who deserved the honor a lot more than me,” said Bullion. “I’m doing this on behalf of those guys, because they are the ones who should really be recognized. An old philosopher once said, ‘lest we forget.’ You never want to forget what has happened, the past is the best way to learn in the future. If you forget, you will not learn from your mistakes. I never want to see these guys and what they did be forgotten.”
Maj. Elizabeth Pham, executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, also spoke during the event, sharing her personal affection for Vietnam War veterans.
“It was quite an honor to be there and speak on behalf of the command, and it does mean a lot to me on a personal level because of my family history,” said Pham. “My family came over after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and they came to America knowing barely any English and hoping for opportunity and for freedom.”
Most Americans are aware of the mistreatment troops received at the end of the Vietnam War. Veterans of the war never received an official welcome home, but that doesn’t mean there devoted service went unrewarded.
“When you hear about a lot of the veteran’s stories, after the war, the country did not support what they were doing,” said Pham. “So when they came home to the United States, after all the sacrifices they had made, and all the men they had lost, and the missions they were told to support, they didn’t receive a thank you, they didn’t receive a welcome home. For those that did fight in the Vietnam War, I always go up and thank them for their service, and they say, ‘I never received any kind of a parade, I never received any kind of a welcome home,’ and I say, ‘well, your parade may not have come in balloons and flags and a band, but your parade will come in a form of what you offered to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people you helped.’ The parade is me being so thankful for their sacrifices, because without them being there, I wouldn’t be here today. They gave a better life to people who are now able to serve the country in return.”