National Vietnam War Veterans Day
National Vietnam War Veterans Day is a national observance, commemorated every year on March 29. It is a day to honor the military who served in the Vietnam War, many of who didn’t receive a proper welcome home. It is not a federal holiday, and businesses and schools are open as normal.
History of National Vietnam War Veterans Day
This day has been independently celebrated in a few states since 1973, on either March 29 or 30.
Officially, it was first observed as a one-time event by President Obama’s proclamation, on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War on March 29, 2012. March 29 is the day chosen to celebrate National Vietnam War Veterans Day, as it was the day in 1973 when the last American Prisoners of War were safely returned to the United States, and when the American troops withdrew from the battle.
In 2016, the Vietnam Veterans Day Coalition of States Council petitioned with President Trump to establish March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, officially marking March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day, as well as determining this is a day where the US flag should be specially flown.
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War is known as the most divisive conflict that the United States have been a part of. In the 1960s, American military joined the conflict, backing up South Vietnam forces, against the troops of communist North Vietnam.
During the 19th century, Vietnam had been under French rule. After World War II, politician Ho Chi Mihn created the League for the Independence of Vietnam, against the French.
Backed by the French, in 1945 Emperor Bao Dai took control of Vietnamese rule, and as a response, the Viet Mihn’s forces took over the city of Hanoi, declaring it a new state of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In retaliation, in 1949, Bao created the State of Vietnam, with Saigon as the capital. Both politicians ultimately wanted a united Vietnam, but Ho wanted a Vietnam under communist rule, and Bao wanted a government that was more similar to Western governments.
Upon taking complete control of the North, Ho’s communist troops attacked the South, effectively ending the French Colonial Rule in Vietnam. As they were losing, anti-communist Ngo Dinh Diem replaced Bao in 1955 as president of South Vietnam.
Influenced by the tensions of the Cold War, and fearing that more countries would begin falling under communist rule, President Eisenhower vowed to assist South Vietnam in their war against the Viet Cong. American military were sent to Vietnam to train and equip South Vietnamese forces. Eventually, 8 million US troops were deployed to Vietnam, and as the largest presence in the conflict, America dictated the war.
The Vietnam War was the longest war in American history, with 3 million people dying during it, most of them Vietnamese civilians. The US army lost 58,000 troops. This was a conflict that severely divided the country, as many were against the United States interfering in the war. As such, most veterans returned to America without recognition for their sacrifices, and many had trouble readjusting to normal life.
How to celebrate National Vietnam War Veterans Day
On March 29 most US cities will have events to commemorate and honor Vietnam War Veterans, such as speeches, ceremonies and luncheons.
Many businesses and people fly the American flag outside. It is a day to thank Veterans for their service, and many buy the Veterans meals and listen to their war stories.
The biggest ceremony takes place in the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington D.C., where many come to lay wreaths and pay their respect.