The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Vietnam veterans honored at ceremony


March 28, 2018

David Grieder

Florencio Ramirez, right, came with his grandson Jacob Benn to the Clovis Veterans Affairs office for an appointment Tuesday and found a reception honoring those who served in Vietnam.

CLOVIS — More than 50 years since serving in Vietnam, Florencio Ramirez sat at the Clovis Veterans Affairs Office on Tuesday and enjoyed some light refreshments while waiting for his appointment. He came in from Logan with his grandson, and they were pleasantly surprised to find some decorations, pins and food laid out as part of an afternoon function to honor veterans of the conflict.

It may have been a subdued reception, but from Ramirez' perspective it still reflected a vast change in attitudes since he first came home a half-century back.

The National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremony, which ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the local VA office, was not marked with special fanfare, programming, or speakers. But Ramirez arrived wearing his veteran cap in plain sight, which signaled quite a difference from the name-calling reception when he said he returned from serving in 1967 with the U.S. Army by Vietnam's demilitarized zone.

"I wish it could have been this way when I came back," he said. "Back then it was not a great thing to be a Vietnam veteran. Now, it's an awesome thing. Now, you probably don't see a Vietnam vet without a veteran's hat or shirt."

Ramirez said he first noticed a change in thinking in the early '90s, when other veterans organized to provide a warm welcome home at airports for soldiers returning from Desert Storm.

"Never again will another generation of veterans suffer what we did," Ramirez said Tuesday.

His grandson said he was glad to see more support for Ramirez and his generation of soldiers.

"It's nice when they're supported," said Jacob Benn. "I'm alive now because of my grandpa. I have freedom now because of my grandpa."

President Obama issued a proclamation in 2012 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war, and on this date last year President Trump signed into law an act encouraging the display of the U.S. flag on March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

"And one of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam, most particularly how we treated our troops," reads a quote from President Obama included in a brochure distributed at the Clovis VA on Tuesday. "You were often blamed for a war you didn't start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor."

Teresa Ross, a registered nurse and care manager at the local VA office, said staff there organized the simple reception in the past few weeks after realizing the newly minted holiday was approaching. The office provides some primary care services to veterans locally and provides a shuttle service to Amarillo for other medical appointments.

"We do everything we can for the veterans," she said. "The need is so great and we have so many veterans that live here in this community."


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