By Lih-An Yang
The Courier 

Vietnam Veterans The Focus Of Honor at Civic Center Ceremony

 

Lih-An Yang / The Courier

Waving American flags, fourth-graders from East Side School made a special guest appearance and sang "God Bless America" for the Veterans Day audience and dignitaries at the Civic Center.

Glasgow recognized its local veterans in the annual Veterans Day ceremony held at the Civic Center on Tuesday, Nov. 11. In tribute to the upcoming 40th anniversary marking the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975, Vietnam veterans were the focal point of honor in this year's ceremony.

Master of the ceremony Steve Page gave an update on the status of the Northeast Montana Veterans' Memorial Park in Fort Peck. He explained that, thanks to community effort, the group has raised enough funds to complete the first phase of the project. It plans to start construction next spring, and to come near a relative completion in a year. At that time, more fund raising will be needed to build additional features.

Page himself was a combat engineer platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1967-68. In a later interview, Page said that he was involved with the Tet Offensive, which occurred over the 1967-68 New Year's time. This event was for him "the most significant experience" in Vietnam, and led him to have profound respect and empathy towards anyone who was there.


Page then directed the audience's attention to Lloyd Eide, Gordon Olson and Kenneth Newton, three local WWII veterans who received the French Knight Legion of Honor Award two weeks ago.

Keynote speaker was Art Widhalm, VFW Montana state commander and a resident of St. Marie, himself a highly decorated veteran who served in Vietnam in 1966-67. He noted that it took 10 years after the end of the Vietnam War for our country to begin studying the effects of Agent Orange on our veterans, and it wasn't until 1988 that a study on Post-Traumatic Stree Disorder was initiated. Today, it is recognized that Agent Orange is responsible for many long-lasting adverse effects in veterans and their families, such as birth defects and unusual cancers, down to three or four generations.

Widhalm also noted that there are two bills in Congress to fund a comprehensive study on the long-term effects of the military personnel's exposure to many toxins.

"Vietnam veterans are now making their voices heard. No longer are they willing to sit in the background and watch their fellow veterans struggle," he said. "We need to give them a hero's welcome and the support to transition back to civilian life. These brave soldiers have answered the call to ensure the freedom and the way of life we enjoy."

Patriotic music adorned the ceremony. Waving American flags, the fourth grade students of East Side School made a special guest appearance and sang "God Bless America" for the audience. The EQ Singers, accompanied by pianist Jennifer Fewer, sang beautiful renditions of "The Ballad of the Green Berets" and "In Flanders Fields." As the Glasgow High School Band, under the direction of Brad Persinger, played armed forces medley, veterans stood up and received recognition for their branch of service.


Singled out for an extra round of applause were father-and-son duo Cap and Jim Holter. Cap is a 95-year-young veteran who served four years with the National Guard and four years in the Army during WWII, fighting in New Guinea. Jim, 68 years of age, was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, as a marine in 1968-69. They both attained the rank of E-5 Sergeant.

The ceremony concluded with a haunting renditions of "Taps" by Persinger and Leonard Swenson on trumpet.

 

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