Local Vietman-era veterans honored on 50th anniversary of end of war
Vietnam Veterans Honored In Taylorville
TAYLORVILLE — Keynote Speaker Colonel Robert Tyler (standing) speaks to a room filled to the brim with love, compassion and family. Wednesday, Mar. 29, marked 50 years since the end of Vietnam War. All service men and women of the era were recognized and honored with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Writer
TAYLORVILLE — The United States of America paid respects to all those who served during the Vietnam Era on Wednesday, Mar. 29. The date marked 50 calendar years since the official end of the Vietnam War.
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Taylorville American Legion Post 73 made the day even more special by holding the Vietnam Veteran Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony saw much emotion as the event acted as more of the “Welcome Home” the service members never had the opportunity to have.
“The Vietnam Veterans came back to a country that didn’t appreciate their service,” keynote speaker Colonel Robert Tyler said. “Being able to recognize and personally hand a veteran of that era a little pin that says ‘thank you’ and watch them cry because nobody’s ever done that, means something. So helping them put their Vietnam experience into context is kind of what we’re trying to do.”
Colonel Tyler served on active duty for over thirty years during which time
he accumulated more than 5,000 flight hours in over a dozen military aircraft. Over the years Colonel Tyler earned an MS in Safety from Southern California University and a Doctorate of Cognitive Psychology from the University of Central Florida. This prepared him to be a Human Factors Consultant to several federal government agencies in the years after he hung up his uniform. Soon after moving to Decatur nine year ago, Dr. Tyler began teaching at Richland Community College as an adjunct psychology professor.
The Colonel’s speech was centered around the stigma behind serving in that time and just how the American people’s view of the war was skewed to only focus on the negative aspects.
“What the people heard back home was not what I saw,” Colonel Tyler exclaimed. “Did we make a difference? Yes. So today is about recognizing those who raised their hand and said ‘I do’.” He knew just how to connect on a deeper level with the veterans in the audience. One of the audience members was Military Order Purple Heart holder Commander Joe Schaler.
“This is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam. We do this on March 29 as it is Vietnam Veterans Day.
“We honor the nine-million Vietnam-era veterans that served at that time and
the two-and-a-half million served in country. We want remember the fifty-eight thousand two-hundred and twenty that made the ultimate sacrifice and we want to remember the other three hundred thousand that were wounded and the memories that we’ve lost due to agent orange and suicide over the years. It has taken a toll on those nine-million. And we want to honor the families that supporting them. They are always the unsung heroes that wonder what’s going on and the only thing they see is what they see on T.V. which was not a good depiction of reality.”
The Lapel Pin itself, given to all Vietnam-era Veterans in attendance, was designed with more symbolism hidden within.
The Eagle represents courage, honor and dedicated service to our nation. The color blue matches the canton of the American flag and signify vigilance, perseverance
and justice. The laurel wreath is a time honored symbol representing victory, integrity and strength. Stripes representing the American flag, Six stars for the six allies (Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States) as well as the message which reads: “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”
Other speakers included Veterans’ Homes Coordinator Gwen Diehl, Chaplain Ricky Reed, Commander Dean Ray, Veterans Service Officer Chad Roach and Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry.
Hot food and yummy desert was also served to everyone in attendance provided by the American Legion Post 73.