Beaumont Holds A Ceremony to Show Its Appreciation for Vietnam War Veterans

Dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

David Law worked as a machinist in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He worked in the engine room on two different ships. Now 70 years old, the veteran served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972. He says that he was on the ship more than he was on the land.

29 veterans including Law were honored on March 30 at a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event at Noble Creek Community Park. His daughter, Nancy Law, had nominated him for the recognition. The Beaumont-Cherry Valley Recreation and Park District sponsored the event.

On March 30, 1973, Vietnam veterans came home from the war to a lot of hostility from the American public. They were not warmly welcomed home. California Assemblyman Paul Cook introduced legislation in 2009 that would become the genesis of “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

Flags lined the sidewalk to the main snack bar. A ceremony was held there, led by parks board chairman John Flores. Before leading the attendees in saluting the flag, he reminded them to consider the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance. “Don’t let it just be words or something you memorized in the second grade. Let it ring from your hearts,” he told the crowd.

The invocation was given by Rev. Bill Dunn of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont. The Beaumont Air Force Jr. ROTC demonstrated folding the American flag and the significance of each fold. Fifth District Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley spoke of his pleasure in attending the event honoring our Vietnam War veterans.

The Empire Square Dancers gave a performance dressed in red, white and blue.

Lloyd White, the mayor of Beaumont, said that he grew up during the Vietnam Era. It was difficult for him, knowing that he grew up in the generation that provided so much hatred and hostility toward the veterans. This ceremony gave him the opportunity to reverse that and thank the veterans for their service.

The mayor of Banning, George Moyer, told about how he lost four friends in Vietnam and still feels guilty about it.

All Vietnam veterans in attendance received certificates from local dignitaries. They also received autographed baseballs from former Dodger second baseman Derrel Thomas. A few of the veterans took turns speaking to the audience, Record Gazette reported. Bob Wendeler, who trains service dogs to help servicemen with post-traumatic stress disorder, spoke in praise of his dog Otto and all other dogs who served in Vietnam.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE