In celebration of Veterans Day and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the Fort Drum Commissary held a special recognition ceremony Friday. The ceremony was part of a larger initiative by the Defense Commissary Agency to honor service members, past and present, at each commissary worldwide this Veterans Day weekend.
After the singing of the national anthem, Fort Drum Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas W. Geddings welcomed veterans and their Family Members and thanked them for their selfless service. He read President Obama’s proclamation on the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a document that urges the American people to continue to honor and support Vietnam veterans.
Fort Drum Commissary Officer Michael Pulley spoke of the lasting impact that the Vietnam War has had on the people of the United States.
“If we just look at the sheer numbers, we can understand why,” Pulley said. “There were some 9 million people serving (on) active duty during the Vietnam War era. Of those 9 million, more than 2 ½ million served in Vietnam. That represents 10 percent of that generation.”
Retired Col. Michael T. Plummer, former 10th Mountain Division chief of staff and guest speaker for the event, served in the Army for more than 31 years. Plummer completed two deployments to Vietnam and was diverted to Korea when the drawdown began as he was en route for his third.
Plummer spoke of the heat of the swampy, jungle terrain and the emotional toll that each deployment to Vietnam took on his fellow Soldiers. What he recalled most vividly, however, was the lack of support on the part of the American people for the Soldiers returning from Vietnam.
“During the Vietnam War, many Americans allowed their feelings about the war to turn them against those who were serving them,” Plummer said. “We must never let that happen again.”
Plummer spoke of the importance of supporting Soldiers and their Families, regardless of one’s political beliefs.
“I am convinced that Americans will continue to enlist, train, deploy and put themselves in harm’s way as long as America supports them and provides them and their Families with the same quality of life as those that they serve,” Plummer said. “We must earn their commitment.”
A major highlight of the ceremony was the unveiling of a newly designed Department of Defense flag representing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
As the flag was unfurled, Pulley read a statement about the symbolism of each portion of the
Following the playing of taps, Plummer was presented with a certificate of appreciation, as well as a framed replica of the flag.