NEW YORK –
The U.S. Army Reserve took part in the 39th annual Bronx Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 12, which was focused on honoring America’s Vietnam veterans.
“The Vietnam War was one of the longest engagements in our nation’s history; Vietnam veterans represent nearly 10 percent of their generation,” said Maj. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, commanding general of the Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division. “Today is our chance to pay tribute to and welcome home our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of America.”
Among those joining Belanger for the one-mile march were a platoon of Vietnam-era veterans from all branches of services, several Vietnam veterans serving as grand marshals, and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Ron Watson, chairman of the Bronx Veterans Parade Committee.
“This year’s parade is significant as the year 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the end of combat operations in Vietnam, and the start of withdrawal of U.S. forces,” Watson explained.
Veterans Day traces its roots back to Armistice Day, which marked the end of fighting along the Western Front in World War One on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1938, Congress made Armistice Day an official, annual national holiday. In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day.
“While elements of war have changed considerably over the years, America’s most valuable military asset has remained the same – the character and courage of our men and women in uniform,” Belanger said. “In the united Staes, we currently have about 18 million veterans whose service spans from World War Two through our latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on Veterans Day we honor these great men and women who have come from all walks of life to step forward and defend our nation throughout its history.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. military’s All-Volunteer Force, which represented a paradigm shift for the military – instead of drafting young Americans to fill the ranks of the armed forces, the military began depending exclusively on volunteers, as it still does today.
“I’m asking all veterans to share their positive stories about their service – your stories connect Americans with the value of military service, and they inspire the next generation to serve,” Belanger said. “We really need our veterans to tell their stories so that we can maintain our all-volunteer force.”
“As President Ronald Reagan said at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial on November 11th, 1988, ‘Our liberties, our values, all for which America stands is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom's front,’” she added.