Missouri solemnly remembers Vietnam Veterans

This year marks the second annual celebration of Vietnam Veterans Day in Missouri.

Sunday marks the second observance of Vietnam Veterans Day in Missouri, a special day to give recognition to the veterans of the Vietnam War.

Like all other wars, serving in the Vietnam War was a life-changing experience for veterans in mid-Missouri.

Even half a century later, U.S. Navy veteran Tom Ward can recall the whole experience just like it happened yesterday.

"Once every week or so, we would load up our boat with ammunition, food, fuel, and go to small base camps way out and resupply them," Ward said. "We would get them food, but mainly ammunition. We were just like a big floating bomb going down the creek."

However, Vietnam veterans like Ward often came back to a cold reception. U.S. Navy Veteran Charles Russell said he didn't experience it, but he recalls it happening to other people he served with.

"We lived in the time of the sixties. There was turmoil, social upheaval," Russell said. "There were many people not grateful to veterans and in fact despised the military."

"I was lucky enough to live in a community and go to school in a place were veterans were appreciated," Russell said.

Vietnam Veterans Day was created two years ago in Missouri when Governor Nixon signed it into law.

Ward said he appreciates the gesture, but his focus is now on helping the next generation.

"The new guys coming back now, who have been back a few years or are just coming back, they're the ones I think need help," Ward said. "The economy is pretty poor, they can't get jobs, things are tough for them and those are the ones I think we need to try to support."

Ward and Russell both say they are happy to be alive, and that honoring the fallen is the least anyone can do.