Vietnam War veterans will finally receive “the welcome home that they deserve” with a celebration planned at Chukchansi Park before a Fresno Grizzlies baseball game.
Fresno officials announced the welcome-home ceremony, to be held from 5-7 p.m. April 28, during a Thursday morning news conference.
David Black, a retired Navy information technology chief, said Vietnam veterans weren’t welcomed home like veterans of other wars and “we can never do this again.”
“Their sacrifice needs to be celebrated and honored and never forgotten,” said Black, also second vice commander of AMVETS Department of California who does regional veteran outreach for Fresno Pacific University.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the April event, or honoring a Vietnam veteran, can send a message to the Facebook group Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans.
The idea came from Denise Baronian, director of regional admissions and student success at Fresno Pacific, who watched a video of a similar ceremony for Vietnam veterans in another state. Her husband of 30 years is a Vietnam veteran.
Also Thursday, a stadium chair was unveiled that honors veterans taken as prisoners of war or who remain missing in action. The chair will remain folded until all of these soldiers return home.
“This thing about honoring and healing and educating is so important,” said Vietnam veteran Smokey Rickerd, executive director of AMVETS Department of California.
Derek Franks, general manager of the Fresno Grizzlies, said it’s a great honor to help sponsor the April event.
“The freedom that we enjoy thanks to all these veterans is something that’s truly special,” Franks said.