Tuesday, April 01, 2014

TOP STORY >> Veterans honored in parade

Leader staff writer

Highlights of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History’s third annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on Saturday include the “From Arkansas Vietnam Dog Tag Exhibit,” a parade, booths and a table ceremony by the LRAFB Honor Guard.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m. when the museum opens. The displays will be free to the public through 6 p.m.

For the new exhibit, dog tags representing the 592 Arkansans killed in Vietnam will hang from the ceiling of the museum, director DannaKay Duggar said.

On the tags, there will be names, branches of service, hometowns and the dates the soldiers were killed in action.

There will also be a legend and map on the wall to direct visitors who want to look for the dog tag representing a loved one, Duggar added.

The hour-long parade will start at 2 p.m. from the First United Methodist Church on West Main Street and end at the museum, 100 Veterans Circle.

The REAL Girls will perform live throughout the day, and veterans’ service organizations like the American Legion, the VFW, a survivor outreach service and a prisoners of war group from Missouri will have booths set up, Duggar said.

Veterans and gold star families — those who have lost loved ones in battle — will be invited to sign an 8-foot-by-12-foot vinyl map of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that will be displayed at the museum later.

Then, from 3 to 4 p.m., there will be an honor and remembrance ceremony with a missing in action table ceremony performed by the LRAFB Honor Guard.

A $10 dinner will be served from 4 until 6 p.m. on the museum grounds.

But those who wanted to attend had to RSVP by last Friday.

While these attractions are meant to draw participants, Duggar emphasized that none of them are the main reason to celebrate.

“The main reason (people) need to come out is to give the Vietnam veterans the welcome home they didn’t get when they came back,” the director said. “The war was very controversial, and a lot of the protesters took it out on the soldiers. There are those of us who remember how they were treated when they came home,” Duggar explained.

While the event is not a fundraiser for the museum, donations will be accepted, she added.