Vietnam Veterans living in Mississippi are being honored for their service, some 50 years later, but many veterans say the commemoration is long overdue.
James Wiley of Jackson served in the 44th Medical Brigade in Vietnam. He's proud of his service, but when he returned home, the reception he received was not what he expected.
"I experienced the angry stares and the lack of courtesy towards you," says Wiley. "I sat on an airplane from San Francisco to New Orleans and no one sat near me. No one said anything to me. They just ignored me."
One half-century later, things have changed. At an event held in Jackson over the weekend, some Mississippians are using the 50th anniversary of the war’s start to honor those veterans. Martha Denny is with the Magnolia State Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of the event’s organizers.
"We want to do this because we wwant to recognize the Vietnam Veterans because they were so poorly represented when they returned home," Denny says. "Some had to take off their uniforms. They were shunned. It was just horrible on their return home. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran, and I'm thrilled to be able to support him and all the Vietnam Veterans."
Denny says the complementation will go on for the next ten years. It’s a change that William Patrick, another Vietnam Veteran, says was a long time coming.
"I'm just glad to be able to see it happening because it's long overdue," says Patrick. "We still got a lot of people who won't talk about it whose stories need to be told and maybe this will help to bring them out. It needs to be out and this will help to bring some of our soldiers out and talk about it and talking is healing."
The Vietnam War lasted from 1965 until 1975. During that time more than 630 Mississippians lost their lives.