Vietnam veterans ‘Welcome Home’ helped heal old wounds

I want to thank everyone who helped “Welcome Home” the group of Vietnam veterans in the Oktemberfest parade Sept. 28. There were veterans who came to Marshalltown from around the state to have a long overdue thank you. Many more called and emailed from around the country wishing they could attend! These vets told us they were amazed at their reception from the crowd. They all commented on the applause, the signs and posters, high fives from children, flags waving, people on their feet, and all of the people who said those magical, wonderful words; thank you and welcome home for the entire 11 blocks!

What I really wanted to do was give these vets their own parade, a veterans parade. But I did not know how to go about it, I talked with quite a few people who thought it was a good idea, but too much work. I finally told my sister-in-law, Sandy Lurvey, how I felt about wanting to honor this group of vets somehow, she understood what I was talking about. Her husband, Gary, also served his time in Vietnam and returned to be greeted by war protesters. She got an entry in the Oktemberfest parade and she worked hard to get as many vets as she could contacted. My daughter-in-law, Nicole Johnson was invaluable and helped me with anything I asked of her! The vets are thanking me, but these two ladies deserve all the credit.

One proud Vietnam veteran wanted to ensure that his fellow vets would see red, white and blue as they walked down the parade route. He donated 432 U.S. flags to hand out to the crowd! We did get some donations to partly reimburse him. A local business donated another 144 U.S. flags and 150 fan flags. We had over 700 flags to distribute to the crowd. I had lots of volunteers help me distribute those flags! We will list all donations in a T-R ad soon.

The veterans are asking if we will do this again, many could not attend and wanted to. We are still getting cards and emails from all over the country! I wish someone would organize a Veterans parade and include all veterans.

I would like to thank each and everyone of you that was in the crowd that day and helped to heal some wounds from long ago. It may have seemed like a small thing to you but it meant so very much to these veterans. Thank you again, I am so proud of my hometown!