Heroes Homecoming kicks off in Fayetteville
Posted November 4, 2011
Fayetteville, N.C. — Fayetteville is hosting a special 10-day homecoming for Vietnam veterans to show the community’s appreciation for their service.
Heroes Homecoming began Friday morning with a ceremony at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in front of a standing-room only crowd.
"Heroes Homecoming will provide each of us an opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of that young man (or) woman from Nebraska who got on a bus, rode halfway across this country and arrived at Fort Bragg on a hot July day," Mayor Tony Chavonne said.
Chavonne said he hopes "that there will never be another American who doesn't appreciate the heroes of that era" or "forgets their sacrifice."
Air Force Brig. Gen. Norman Ham Jr. used the ceremony to thank his father, Vietnam pilot Norman Ham Sr.
"You are appreciated very much. I want to say thank you. Thanks, Dad. I love you," he said.
Vietnam veteran Cleon Gibbs attended the ceremony and said it was a "dream come true."
"They are finally giving us something that we deserve," Gibbs said.
Gibbs, of Raleigh, went to Vietnam in 1968.
Harvey Stewart went to Vietnam in 1971 as a first sergeant. A year later, he returned, only to be spit on at a California airport.
"I didn't mind serving my country. I left a wife and four children back here when I went to Vietnam, and then, to come home and get the sort of treatment after defending the U.S., it was demoralizing," Stewart said.
Get a complete list of Heroes Homecoming events
Friday's event was originally planned for the North Carolina Veterans Park, but rain forced it inside.
Heroes Homecoming will include 60 events downtown, including a parade on Nov. 12.