North Texas Veterans Honored at D.C. Memorial

Honor Flight DFW No.54
Honor Flight DFW No.54 | Image by Honor Flight DFW/Facebook

A group of veterans from North Texas traveled to Washington D.C. last weekend to visit war memorials, many for the first time, and some received the honor and respect they were not afforded when they came home from war.

Nearly 40 of those who joined Honor Flight DFW No.54 are veterans of the Vietnam War, and many did not receive a welcome home due to the turmoil in American society in the 1960s and 1970s, as reported by CBS News Texas.

Honor Flight DFW is a non-profit organization that arranges trips to the various war memorials in the nation’s capitol and works to ensure that veterans get the respect they deserve for their service. The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter was established in 2009 and has arranged overnight trips to visit war memorials for over 2,000 area veterans.

Each of the memorials is a moving experience for any American to visit, but for those who participated in combat, the emotion is often significant. Each Vietnam veteran who visited in the most recent journey said he knew someone whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial wall.

“Thinking about how many of these people I knew and how many I didn’t know,” said Vietnam veteran Otis Malone, per CBS. “There’s a lot of names up here. It touches me.”

“I got a tear in my eye, it got to me,” Malone added. “Some people out here shaking hands with us, we didn’t get much of that in 1969. I’m delighted to be here. It’s amazing.”

Texas has deep ties to the Vietnam War. According to a 2010 report by The Texas Tribune, the state had the third-highest number of veterans from the conflict. A group of Texans led by Jay Kimbrough, once a staffer for former Gov. Rick Perry, and Peter Holt, a part-owner of the San Antonio Spurs, worked to construct an educational facility that was to be built underground near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in D.C. to help educate the public and keep the memories of those who did not return alive. The plan was canceled in 2018 after funding the project proved impossible. Instead, the group focused on mobile and digital education.

More than 58,000 Americans died in the conflict. Many of those who came home were treated poorly by civilians as the war became increasingly unpopular. Veterans reported that people made rude hand gestures, threw things at them, and displayed numerous other signs of disrespect.

The experience of these veterans stands in stark contrast to the public reaction that was given to WWII veterans returning from service and those who returned from the Korean War — both of whom were greeted with parades and fanfare.

Over the years, numerous organizations have worked to undo the damage that was done to Vietnam veterans who did not get the welcoming reception they deserved.

Honor Flight DFW is one of numerous chapters that share the stories of veterans and promote honoring the sacrifice of the more than 2.7 million Americans who served in the Vietnam.

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