Lake Area honors service of Vietnam Veterans - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Area honors service of Vietnam Veterans

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It's been more than 40 years since they defended freedom in Vietnam, but veterans of the Vietnam War were honored for their service during a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lake Charles on Saturday.

The keynote speaker of the Vietnam Veterans Honor Day was Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier, a Vietnam veteran himself. Reflecting on their sacrifice, DeRosier told them it's what defines America.

"Because not only are we willing to do it for ourselves, we venture and expend our lives to protect freedoms around the world. And very few other countries do that," said DeRosier.

The day was also about remembering the prisoners of war and those brothers and sisters still missing in action.

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach declared Saturday Vietnam Veterans Honor Day.

"For teaching us that young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win," said Roach.

The recognition, even though some 40 years later, means a lot to these Vietnam vets. While most small towns welcomed their soldiers back from Vietnam, Vietnam veteran Bill Abshire recalls how soldiers were met with protests in the larger cities.

"We were treated like dogs, like baby killers. Little did they know we didn't start that war. We answered the call of our country and we did it to preserve the freedoms and liberties that all of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are enjoying today. And if that call came and I was capable, I would do it again," said Abshire.

"This day means a lot to me because when we came back in the early part from Vietnam, we didn't get a welcome - we got a disgrace to some of us. This here really makes you feel at home today," said Roy Sanders, Vietnam veteran.

Others have mixed feelings, but said it does them good to see today's men and women in uniform welcomed home.

"I personally think the recognition is a little too late. But what makes me feel good is the fact that we are recognizing the ones that are coming home now. And that makes me even prouder of what I did is that I can see these guys coming home and they are treated with a lot of respect - which they all should be. No one knows what they go through over there," said Bill Rister, Vietnam veteran.

Meanwhile, a memorial honoring First Lt. Douglas Fournet will be dedicated on the Fourth of July at Veterans Memorial Park. Fournet, a native of Kinder, died while serving in Vietnam. He was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for bravery in combat.

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