If you love freedom, thank a vet.
Visitors to Fort Hamilton Army Base did just that last Friday, extending a red, white and blue salute to ‘Nam heroes during a “Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day” which hailed the supreme sacrifices of Lady Liberty’s sons and daughters in the Cold War military conflict.
The emotional tribute, which featured a color guard and a slide projection of the names of the 1,741 fallen New Yorkers, preempted the official recognition day, which falls on March 30.
A moment of silence and the playing of Taps moved the audience to a hush as it recalled the 20-year war, which claimed the lives of 58,220 U.S. servicemembers.
Command Sgt. Maj. Sylvia Laughlin invoked tears when she asked everyone in the audience who was not a veteran to stand up.
“She asked them to look around at whoever was still seated, and to go and thank them for their service,” said spokeswoman Cathy SantoPietro.
“They were crying, the vets were crying, it was very touching,” she added.
The ceremony, which culminated with a patriotic presentation by the Narrows Community Theater, was attended by active and retired soldiers, including World War II vets Ed Clancy, Bob Magee and Irwin Meyer.
It is important to salute the heroes who fought in the “forgotten war,” according to SantoPietro.
“They were never welcomed home properly, so now is our chance to acknowledge them, and show them our gratitude for their service,” she explained.