‘We were disrespected:’ New holiday honors Vietnam Veterans

Jacksonville, Fla. — March 29th will now be known as National Vietnam War Veterans Day – a day to honor those who served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in one of the nation’s most gruesome wars.

A ceremony was held Friday morning at the Jacksonville National Cemetery to commemorate the announcement, with Vietnam veterans sharing their stories.

“The one time that I cried during [the war], we started loading Marines in their body bags onto stretchers with the US flag laid over them,” recounted retired Navy Vietnam veteran John Arnold. “We eventually filled the whole back end of the C-130 with dead Marines. And [then] we started a second layer on top of one another.”


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Arnold’s story isn’t unique to those of others who served in the Vietnam War.

“I could no longer pick up another dead marine that day,” retired Colonel Arnold recalled. “That’s not a unique experience. There are 1000s of people that went through that kind of thing.”

58,220 American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War according to the U.S. National Archives, and countless more were sent home with lifelong trauma. It was a war that lingered with many soldiers, only for them to be unwelcome once they returned home.

“We weren’t welcome in the country, especially if you [were] in San Francisco or L.A. We were disrespected,” explained retired Navy Vietnam veteran James Chultz.

However, now, those who served overseas in the Vietnam War and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice are being honored at last with National Vietnam War Veterans Day in Jacksonville.

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