Come out and support Vietnam veterans in 'Parade That Never Was'
On Saturday, Oct. 13, beginning at 10 a.m., Warrior's Weekend, along with hundreds of patriots, will attempt to "right a wrong" that is long overdue. The Parade That Never Was will be held in downtown Victoria to honor the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans as well as those of the Vietnam era.
Most of you know that the Vietnam veterans were not treated as they should have been when they returned home. Many were spat upon, had stuff thrown at them, and called terrible names, especially the ones who arrived back in the U.S. through San Francisco. They answered their country's call, served bravely and made the same sacrifices our heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan do today. They deserved the same honor we bestow on the heroes of today.
There will be well over 150 entries in the parade, including bands, school groups, businesses, churches, an active duty Army band from Ft. Sam Houston, car and motorcycle clubs and several Vietnam-era military vehicles for all to view. That does not account for the 200-plus Vietnam veterans that have signed up to march/ride in the parade, including many from our area, San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi and all over Texas, as well as a few from out of state.
It is time to show them the love and respect that we have been showing our Iraq and Afghanistan heroes. These brave men and women have been some of the most ardent supporters of Warrior's Weekend by taking our heroes fishing and leading them to Victoria on our processions from Houston, Ft. Hood and San Antonio. Now it is time to turn the tables on them and show them the same admiration we do "today's" heroes.
This parade is about honor, not whether you agree with the Vietnam War or not. As has been said many times before, "This is about the warrior, not the war." There will be no negative references about the war allowed, only honor toward these heroes. More than 58,000 of our best and bravest lost their lives in Vietnam and many of those who survived still bear the scars, both mental and physical, of what they endured.
I recently attended a group meeting of Vietnam veterans to announce the parade to them and, at the end of my presentation, I asked if anyone had any questions. One of the vets said, "Yeah, I have a question, Ron. What if nobody comes?" My reply was that Warrior's Weekend has hundreds of volunteers that will work hard to see that this parade is a success. How right I was! Our volunteers have been all over Victoria and surrounding counties. They are truly the most hard working and dedicated group of people I have ever known, serving those who sacrifice for us.
The parade should be great. Now we need all of you to come. Change any other plans you may have already made for October 13th. As fellow Americans, this is one of those times when we should come together and show the appreciation, respect and honor that these men and women rightfully deserve. Let's pack downtown Victoria with patriotic citizens, and line the streets like never before! Mark your calendars to be there at 10 a.m. on Saturday. It will be a good opportunity to teach our young children of the sacrifices made on their behalf before they were born. It is our prayer that a great healing takes place this day, as we show America's Vietnam veterans a long awaited "Welcome Home" that they will never forget!
Ron Kocian is president of the Warrior's Weekend organization in Victoria.