By Ernest Luning, The Colorado Statesman
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter plans to hold a Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Ceremony on Friday, March 24. All Vietnam-era veterans in Colorado are eligible to receive the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin at the ceremony.
The ceremony is part of an ongoing national program to honor all Vietnam-era veterans — military service members who were on active duty between Nov. 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975, regardless of where they served.
This year’s ceremony coincides with Vietnam Veterans Day, an annual celebration on March 29. There are more than 100 commemoration events planned in Colorado and more than 8,000 planned nationwide.
The pins can be awarded posthumously to survivors. The commemoration doesn’t distinguish between veterans who served in-country, in-theater or who were stationed elsewhere.
Established in 2007 by an Act of Congress and a subsequent presidential proclamation, the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration started with a presidential event at the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial on May 28, 2012, and will run through Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2025.
The lapel pins were created to recognize, thank and honor veterans who served during the Vietnam War. Their symbolism runs deep: On the front, the eagle represents courage, honor and dedicated service; the blue circle surrounding the eagle echoes the blue of the American flag and symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice; the laurel wreath in the blue circle represents victory, integrity and strength; the stripes behind the eagle represent the stripes of the American flag; the six stars alongside the eagle represent the six allies who fought the war, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States; and the message, “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” is embossed on the back of the pin so it will be worn closest to the heart.
The period covering the Vietnam War begins in Nov. 1, 1955, when the Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam was officially designated, and ends on May 15, 1975, when the battle the followed the seizure of the SS Mayaguez was concluded. The last U.S. personnel evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975.
According to VA estimates, there are 7 million Vietnam veterans alive today and 9 million surviving families of veterans who have died.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that today there are 7 million living Vietnam Veterans and 9 million families of those who served in this time frame.
In order to be recognized at the ceremony, a veterans or family member must fill out an application and a submit an official certificate of release or discharge from active duty — commonly known as the DD-214 — to Perlmutter’s office. Those without the form handy can contact his office for assistance. The deadline to submit a form for this year’s commemoration ceremony is Friday, March 1.
Reach Perlmutter’s office via email at email@example.com or call (303) 274-7944.