Hundreds gathered at the Reno Events Center on Saturday, March 30 to observe National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 and the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, Saturday’s event was the first celebration of National Vietnam War Veterans Day in Reno. “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another” was the theme for the inaugural event.
Looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the end of combat actions in Vietnam, then President Obama proclaimed March 29, 2012, as Vietnam Veterans Day. In 2017 President Trump made the designation permanent, declaring an annual holiday “to ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come.” National Vietnam War Veterans Day is officially March 29 of each year.
“The day is a welcome home for all veterans,” said J.R. Stafford, VP of Vietnam Veterans of American Sierra Nevada #989. Our event was an “opportunity for younger veterans to experience the reverence we have for our seniors, and some good-natured ribbing and service rivalry,” said Stafford. “We all share the same love of country and respect for all service. We would like to take our hats off a recognize the service of all.”
The Vietnam Veteran Association Sierra Nevada #989 color guard opened the ceremonies with the presentation of the colors, and the Patriot Guard Riders delivered a memorial wreath. Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Hayes delivered the keynote address, and 1st Lt. Andy LePeilbet offered closing remarks. Area mayors read the names of the Fallen from Nevada, and a Nevada flag inscribed with their names was presented in their honor.
Commenting on the difficulty of returning from Vietnam to friends and family who may not have supported the war, Brig. Gen. Hayes remembered that “even my family didn’t discuss the war around me.”
But “time soothes all sores,” noted Hayes. “Looking back, I think the country suffered as much as we did over the war.”
A charity luncheon followed the ceremonies. Proceeds from the event benefited Veterans Guest House, Honor Flight Nevada, Northern Nevada Veterans Home and various local veterans organizations.
Andrea is a freelance photographer and mountain enthusiast. She discovered the Great Basin on her first trip to California 15 years ago and finally made the move to Reno in 2019. Her favorite stories investigate efforts to strike a balance between conservation and recreation. Andrea has made images for a variety of publications, websites, and conservation organizations. In her free time—and sometimes for work!—she enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing, and lazy days in camp with her husband.