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Moving ceremony welcomes Vietnam veterans back home
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 00:00

Verde Valley veterans, their families and friends stood in the sun on a warm spring afternoon while the American flag fluttered in the breeze and finally welcomed home our Vietnam veterans all these years later.

Motorcycles thundered into Sedona after leaving Clarkdale and circling the Verde Valley to honor our vets Friday, March 30.

The hard work and organization by several veterans and their families brought together people from all over the area to do something that should have been done long ago — to say thank you for your sacrifice, and we’re glad you came home from Vietnam.

Each face showed emotion brought on by remembering the time when those soliders served our country, dealing with the aftermath when they came home or compassion for our own loved ones who went over, some of whom never came back.

Sedona Mayor Rob Adams and Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens shared their personal and touching stories relating to that time in American history.

Adams didn’t go to war, thanks to acceptance into college and a friend who told him he shouldn’t go if he didn’t have to. He lost good friends to the war and made new friends who were veterans. He saw what the war did to all of them.

Joens’ husband served in Vietnam, and she recalled standing by him while he healed from his experience. The Joenses lost several children early in their marriage, quite possibly due to his exposure to Agent Orange.

While the majority of those in attendance served in the war or remember waiting at home for soldiers to return, the event included encouraging younger generations to welcome the soldiers home.

Students wrote letters to the veterans welcoming them home and thanking them for their service. The letters were handed out at the event, and veterans were asked to respond to the children.

Sedona resident Judy Maloney brought the project to my attention in an office at Sedona City Hall just a few months ago telling me its purpose was to show support for veterans and their families, who often suffered alongside their soldiers. Maloney is the wife of a Vietnam veteran herself. I knew right away how much this event would mean to many of the area’s residents.

Maloney pulled it off with the help of other local veterans and families making it a well-attended event.

Some were moved to tears, others felt happy to be home among friends and family, and some simply stood silent remembering.

Again, welcome home, veterans.

 

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