Across the U.S., communities are coming together and holding events to honor Vietnam veterans and their families.
It’s a government-led initiative called the Vietnam War Commemoration, engaging 10,000 event partners, ranging from the Boy Scouts of America to the NFL.
The goal: to send a simple message to Vietnam vets thanking them for their service.
To better understand Vietnam veterans, their struggles, and the war, the Commemoration is gathering their stories on video. Their first-hand accounts will live forever in the Library of Congress.
Marj Graves was a 24-year old captain in the Army Nurse Corp:
Gene Peery was a baby-faced 20-year-old from Scio, Oregon flying Huey helicopters in Vietnam when he was wounded.
“Suddenly, I watch my arm blow up in the air and a big chunk of my sleeve blow off," Peery said. "And the next round hit me in the head ... and I’m out.”
Now 70, Peery still remembers his inhospitable return to the U.S.
"I suddenly realized, I just got spit on," he said. "And I looked up and there were three hippies standing there. And they spit on me.”
In 2012, President Obama signed a proclamation creating the Vietnam War Commemoration. Obama called on communities across the country to come together and hold events between then and Veteran's Day 2025 to recognize the 7 million living Vietnam veterans.
That includes those who were captured, and the 1,600 still missing in action. To date, the commemoration has reached more than 1.4 million Vietnam veterans and their family members.