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Vietnam Vets Honored During Holiday
Soldiers took their last steps in Vietnam 40 years ago.
Their welcome home was not the best, but today Decatur residents showed their appreciation to a group of veterans in the area.
"These are some great men and women," Bruce Stephens said. "They deserve the accolades that they never got. That's what this is about."
The Vietnam Veterans event committee hosted a welcome home celebration. More than 100 retired soldiers came out to see old friends are remember the time spent overseas.
"For so many years we didn't even acknowledge each other," veteran Homer Peak said. "We didn't wear our hats. No one even knew we served in Vietnam."
Veterans concealed their affiliation with the war because of the harsh feedback protesters gave. Some spent 19 months in the country defending the people that hated their actions.
"I was in Chicago, got eggs thrown on me and spit on," Peak said.
"We hid for a lot of years because they didn't like us, they didn't want us," veteran Robert A. Martindale said. "Sorry, that's the way we were treated."
It was not until 2007 when March 30 became Welcome Home Veterans Day. The holiday, celebrated in multiple states, is honored on same day troops left Vietnam.
"A lot of things were forgotten, people forget it, even people who were there," veteran Matt Filchak said. "They need to come back and remember part of it."
"Makes me feel proud," Martindale said. "I mean, I can see a lot of my friends."
Veterans used Saturday's event to bond with each other.
"It's not very often that we all get together like this, because it's just something that doesn't happen in Macon County very often," veteran George Leffler said.