A Message from our Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wayne Hanson

Wreaths Across America chose the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY, from March 22-24 to debut its newly designed Traveling Education Exhibit. This 48-foot display trailer hooked to its Chevy truck was loaded with many “hands on” technology and interactive information about the program to help visitors learn about the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.

While I was honored to be one of the Wreaths Across America team accompanying the exhibit, one of the more memorable things I had the pleasure of doing was to say two words to some of those present…”Welcome Home!”

This greeting was for those attendees stopping by the trailer whom I could see or learned that they were my fellow Vietnam veterans. Those two simple words mean a lot to these veterans. Unlike veterans of other US conflicts, our Vietnam veterans never received a warm welcome home from fighting. Even though they did what they had been assigned to do, in a place many couldn’t even locate on a map, on returning home, they were met with insults, harassment, and hate. They were blamed for an unpopular war they didn’t start or control. They had answered the call to duty.

Wreaths Across America wants to let our Vietnam veterans know that we appreciate their service and sacrifices. So, in addition to our special Vietnam veterans’ room in the WAA Museum in Maine, we had “Welcome Home” hats and t-shirts made as our gift of thanks to these veterans. We also partner with the United State of America Vietnam War Commemoration organization to thank all Vietnam veterans with a lasting memento of the nation’s thanks by formally, “pinning” them with a Vietnam Veteran’s lapel pin.

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The following, taken from President Barack Obama’s Presidential Proclamation of May 25, 2012, describes my feeling for my Vietnam brothers. “While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifices, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor.”

During the three days of MATS, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting and “pinning” about 25 of my fellow Vietnam veterans. In each case as I said “on behalf of a grateful nation,” as I pinned them, I could see they understood that what they did and how they served our country was finally being recognized. In addition, I gave each a “Welcome Home” baseball cap and t-shirt.

It is amazing how a firm handshake, pat on the back and hearty “Welcome Home” can help heal years of lost valor. So, when you see that person wearing their Vietnam Veteran hat, please take a moment to shake their hand, pat them on the back and soundly say, “WELCOME HOME!”

It’s not what we do, but why we do it!

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