Nacogdoches Vietnam vets honor Memorial Day

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches Vietnam veterans say Memorial Day fills a void they've had for decades.

"I've had eggs chunked at me before, at least they weren't rotten," said Glenn Johnson, a Vietnam veteran of the Navy.

"There was a lot of negativity to the Vietnam War," said J.D. Hill, the Nacogdoches Chapter Vietnam Veterans of America president. "There were a lot of war demonstrations and we probably weren't treated as well as we should have been treated."

This ceremony is put on to honor all veterans.

But for soldiers who served in Vietnam, like Charles Basham, Memorial Day means everything.

"It means freedom to do whatever we want to do, go wherever we want to go, have the religion that we want," Basham said.

He was one of three veterans who received the Order of the Silver Rose on Monday.

It recognizes veterans chemically wounded by Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Nancy French also accepted the Silver Rose Award in memory of her husband.

"I kept hoping that we would have the ceremony before Thomas died, but we never got to do that," French said. 

She says he contracted cancer from exposure to Agent Orange.

"He never really cared that much about medals, he was like you got to do what you got to do," French said. "But underneath all that, secretly, I think he would've loved the fact that these guys were here and they gave this to me. I'm sure he's beaming. I'm sure he is."

"We wished we could've given it to her veteran, but it was pretty overwhelming," Hill said.

A day to remember those who, even with little support, willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"It feels kind of heavy, a quiet reverence," Johnson said. "I have three friends over there on that monument. One was my best friend."

"They will never be forgotten, never ever," French said.

If you're interested in getting involved with Pineywoods Chapter 931 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, contact the chapter president at 936-615-9052.

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