BOLIVAR, TN (WMC) - The City of Bolivar is inviting Vietnam War veterans, their families, and citizens from Hardeman County and surrounding counties, to join in celebrating and honoring the veterans of the Vietnam War.
"For a very long time we have talked about and wanted to do something like this, now it is finally happening and I couldn't be more proud of the team that has made it happen," said Bolivar City Mayor Barrett Stevens. "Today our soldiers come back to parades, 'thank you' greetings, and cookouts. They have flags waving and a hero's welcome, and they deserve that. But our Vietnam veterans were treated like criminals. They had to hide the fact that they were even a veteran. It wasn't right then, and it's still not right. This is our way to try to say they 'thank you' to them and we are glad they came home. We are glad they served our country. We are proud of them."
The city will have a "Welcome Home" parade for all Vietnam Veterans on Saturday, April 9, beginning at 10 a.m. The lineup for the parade will be at 9:45 a.m. in the parking lot of Tractor Supply on W. Market Street. The Family Celebration will be held at 11 a.m. at the National Guard Armory in Bolivar at 1600 W. Market Street.
Brigadier General Tommy Baker will be the keynote speaker at the celebration. Gen. Baker is a native of Huntingdon, TN and a graduate of UT Martin. He has served two tours in Iraq and currently serves as the Assistant Adjutant General of the Tennessee Army National Guard and is responsible for the training and supervision of more than 13,000 soldiers in the TN Army National Guard.
"We want the families to come out and enjoy some free food, take a look at some war relics from that time period, have time to honor your loved ones for their service and have your loved one be appreciated by our city like they deserve," said Stevens. "We want our veterans to come out. We want veterans from all over West Tennessee to come out because this is not just for our city or our county. This is for counties all over. We want all these veterans in the areas around us to be able to have the welcome home parade they never got, to have someone to waive a flag, shake their hand, and say 'welcome home."
Family members of Vietnam veterans who are no longer alive are encouraged to walk in the parade with posters, t-shirts, and flags to honor their loved ones.
Businesses and individuals wishing to set up a table for free at the Family Celebration with Vietnam War memorabilia or to honor the veterans are asked to call Shelia Dellinger at the City of Bolivar at 731-658-2020 to reserve a table.
There will also be information available for veterans and family members regarding Agent Orange exposure, benefits and resources.