SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Vietnam War veteran Ron Brown was at a casino in Oregon when he first heard of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day from the man who spearheaded the bill in Washington state.
It was during that conversation with fellow Vietnam veteran Gil Calac that Brown, a senior honor guard officer with American Legion Post 43, decided his post should celebrate the day too.
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day was officially established as a national event by the U.S. Senate in 2011, and in 2013, the state Legislature passed its own bill to observe the day on March 30.
On Saturday, the event was recognized for the fourth time by American Legion Post 43 with a parade through downtown Sedro-Woolley and a memorial ceremony at the post.
The purpose of the event is to give the men and women who served in Vietnam the welcome home they never received, Brown said.
A spattering of community members gathered along Metcalf Street to watch the procession of veterans and supporters as they made their way from Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 2069 to the post on Murdock Street.
Those in the parade included members of the post, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 1109 and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Ann Washington chapter and Sons of the American Revolution George Washington chapter also walked.
“I think this is a great way to show our support for Vietnam veterans,” DAR regent Karen Manatt said.
Standing on the sidewalk, Whidbey Island resident Erica Slane said she too attended the parade to show her respect for those who served.
“I think this is a big deal because (the veterans) were not recognized when they came back,” she said. “We want to show our support now.”
At the end of the parade, the veterans and supporters took a seat at the post for the memorial ceremony.
Sedro-Woolley Mayor Julia Johnson spoke of the challenges Vietnam veterans faced when they returned home from the war, and the pain many feel to this day.
“We cannot know what you were required to do or how you did it,” she said. “With a grateful heart, I say thank you for serving.”