CRIDERSVILLE — Gene Border and Mike Little, neighbors in Shawnee and each a Vietnam War veteran, were among those who were finally honored for their service on Friday.
Border was in the Marine Corps from 1960 to 1964 and Little in the Army from 1960 to 1963.
“There’s a lot of controversy around Vietnam, so anytime you can get out to participate in something honoring it, we’re going to show up for it. We’re proud of our service,” Border said. “It’s something that’s needed in the community.”
Twelve local Vietnam veterans were honored in a commemorative ceremony Friday held by Bayliff and Son Funeral Home.
The funeral home partnered with the United States Vietnam War Commemoration to hold a pinning ceremony open to all active duty Armed Forces veterans during the Vietnam War period — Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975 — regardless of duty location.
“They (the commemoration) drew up this pin to recognize the Vietnam veterans because when they came back form war, it was not a friendly thing, and they’re wanting to let them know they don’t feel the same way about that now,” said Funeral Director Becky Bayliff. “As a community, we’re much more appreciative of what they did, realizing the sacrifices they made for us and just extending that.”
Little said an event like this may not have been something he would have attended 25 years ago.
“The older you get, the more sentimental you get,” he said. “Now, as we dwindle in ranks, it does have more meaning.”
The Vietnam War Commemoration was created to honor the 50th anniversary of the war and have registered partners and and events throughout the nation to recognize those who served, all of which who have the opportunity to be pinned.
Bayliff originally heard of funeral homes getting involved with the commemoration program at a funeral home and crematory conference about six weeks ago and wanted to bring that to her community. They wanted to use Flag Day as an opportunity to take the time to do so.
“It’s a federal program, and they’ve been doing this for about four years now with the normal veteran tracks — the VFWs, American Legions. Now they’re reaching out to the communities to get involved because they realize not everybody is a part of those organizations,” she explained. “We work closely with the veterans because of doing military rites for the funeral services. Anything we can do to help support them is just wonderful.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.