LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Thanks to the Louisiana Legislature in 2011, the City of Lake Charles is able to host a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day each year.
Today, that event took place at Veterans Memorial Park.
A gun salute and playing of Taps were among the many ways Vietnam Veterans were honored Saturday afternoon.
"Today is your day and with the issuance of this proclamation, this day will be ever known as Welcome Day here in the City of Lake Charles," stated Mayor Randy Roach of the City of Lake Charles.
Decades after the Vietnam War, men and women from various branches of the military proudly wore their insignia today, sharing memories.
"We're old warriors and just like our fathers generation and the generations before them, we did what our country asked us to do. We were responsible for stopping the spread of communism," said guest speaker Col. Dwight Bertrand, Retired US Air Force.
LCDR James Dodd added, "The one thing that depicted the Vietnam War was that helicopter, as the Colonel just mentioned. You either came in on it, went out on it, you supplied on it and you moved on it."
And for those who couldn't be here today, an MIA table and Field Cross stood in their honor.
Following a moment of silence, a Field Cross ceremony also commemorated the fallen soldiers.
As Veterans watched the presentation of the rifle, boots, helmet and dog tags, today's recognition is different from the anti-war sentiments many received years ago.
Today, Mayor Roach says it was about thanking those Vietnam Veterans, "For not giving up when we failed to give you the honor you deserved, for teaching us that young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win."
Following the ceremony, a picnic was held.