In honor of Vietnam Veterans Day, VVA Chapter #994 will conduct a wreath laying ceremony, three volley rifle salutes and the playing of taps. The ceremony will take place Saturday, March 29, at 2 p.m. at Franklin Town Hall during the Trail Days festival. On display will be crosses with the names of 49 men from the seven western North Carolina counties who lost their lives in Vietnam.
Veterans walking the Appalachian Trail will be in attendance and VVA Chapter #994 invites all veterans and their families to attend. The VVA will also have a booth at the Trail Days festival, with T-shirts, raffle tickets and membership information. All funds raised go to help veterans and their families.
March 29, 1973, marked the official departure of the last American troops in Vietnam. During the longest military conflict in U.S. history, more than three million Americans served in Southeast Asia. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives and 304,000 additional Americans were wounded.
In June 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1231 to proclaim March 29, Vietnam Veterans Day, due to the efforts of VVA Chapter #994 and then Congressman Heath Shuler. The very first Vietnam Veterans Day celebration was held in Franklin on March 29, 2009.
6th annual Appalachian Trail Warriors Hike
A group of military veterans are taking the opportunity to “Walk Off The War” along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This year’s group of veterans began the six-monthlong physical challenge on March 17 at Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the trail in Georgia. The hikers will stop off in Franklin on Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, as one of their 35 stops during their 2,180 mile journey.
VFW Post 7339 and American Legion Post 108 will help sponsor these veterans by asking the community to join them for a barbecue on Friday at 6 p.m. at VFW Post 7339, 228 W. Palmer Street, and on Saturday, American Legion Post 108 will serve breakfast at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., each hiker will be presented a “Quilt of Valor” by the Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild. Proceeds from the barbecue and the breakfast will go to the the Warriors Hike Fund.
The Warrior Hike is a project geared toward helping wounded veterans transition back to civilian life. The money raised by the veteran hikers last year helped buy a van for a disabled veteran.
"Hiking over 2,000 miles during the course of six months gives a veteran an opportunity to decompress and come to terms with their wartime experiences," said Sean Gobin, Warrior Hike executive director. "The camaraderie that is shared between our combat veterans and the trail town communities helps facilitate their integration back into civilian life.”
Veterans hiking the A.T. this year include Scott Brooks- Miller, a Vietnam War veteran, and several returning service members from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
For information, visit www.warriorhike.com.