Vietnam veteran Artie Guerrero, sitting, receives a standing ovation during the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, when the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution to honor the state's Vietnam veterans on April 30 at the state Capitol. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)
[Photo gallery from the event]
Colorado honors Vietnam War veterans on Fall of Saigon anniversary
State house and senate recognize Vietnam veterans on 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon
By Joe Nguyen, AsiaXpress.com
May 5, 2010
South Vietnamese veterans pose during the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, when the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution to honor the state's Vietnam veterans on April 30 at the state Capitol.
• Photo gallery from the event
• Full text of Senate Joint Resolution 10-048 (.pdf)
DENVER – On the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution to honor the state's Vietnam veterans on April 30 at the state Capitol.
Approximately 30 Vietnam War veterans were in attendance as state senators and representatives passed Senate joint resolution 48, which declared April 30, 2010 as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" in Colorado.
"This day is special," said Artie Guerrero, a former Army ranger who was wounded in the war. "It is something for Colorado people because we lost 611 people and there were a bunch of us who were wounded and felt like we wanted to die. ...
"I advocate for veterans, so it even means more when we pass a bill and our leadership of this state recognize those of us that served."
In the bill, it is written that since the war was such a divisive issue in the U.S., "a generation of veterans has waited much too long for the people of this nation to acknowledge and honor the service and sacrifices of those veterans." Members of the house and senate spoke for 90 minutes, sharing their personal thoughts.
"They didn't come back to parades, they didn't come back to open arms," said Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo. "And I felt this was a terrible time in our country. They were serving the country, they weren't making a political statement.
"They were being asked to do what they were asked to do – they were serving our country. They were all heroes."
In addition to the U.S. veterans, a group of South Vietnamese veterans were also in attendance – many wearing their uniforms from the war.
"If you look around, there are a lot of people here not wearing U.S. military uniforms. They were allies of the United States in Vietnam," said Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton. "... I think you should absolutely give thanks to the allies – we fought alongside each other in Vietnam."
For Guerrero, who worked with the Hmong during the war, recognition of the allied soldiers was important.
"This part right here," Guerrero said as he pointed to the South Vietnamese veterans in attendance, "means a lot."