Pa. House pays tribute to Vietnam veterans
On March 19, the Pennsylvania House passed a resolution recognizing March 30, 2014, as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”
The resolution, sponsored by state Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, was passed unanimously before 11 Alle-Kiski Valley Vietnam veterans who were invited to the state Capitol in Harrisburg.
Vietnam veterans from Fayette County say they welcome the recognition, but feel it is coming late.
“Like 50 years late,” said Chester Prinkey of Dunbar Township. “That's the thing. Over the past 46 or 47 years (he left Vietnam that long ago,) anything I got as a Vietnam veteran I had to go get it.”
He was more appreciative of the recognition he recently got.
“One lady did make me cry at the Mt. Pleasant mall,” he said.
Westmoreland County was honoring veterans, and he happened to walk in with his Vietnam veterans hat on his head.
“She gave me a big hug and a big kiss,” Prinkey said. “That really means something. As far as the state goes, they are really late in coming onboard.
John Cole of Connellsville expressed the same feelings.
“I'm happy we're getting some recognition,” he said, adding he spends most of his time trying to forget the combat he experienced.
“But every time I smell diesel fumes, the memories come back,” he added.
But Cole wondered why it will only be a one-day event.
Lanny Golden of Uniontown said having a day does not matter to him now.
“It's time for the vets from Iraq and Afghanistan to get their due now,” Golden said.
He said he was on a plane recently when an Iraq War veteran in first class, an amputee, received applause from the passengers.
He was happy that the veteran got the recognition. He wished he had been recognized when he came back.
Golden said it does not seem as if he and his fellow soldiers ever got recognition, even a welcome-home parade.
“They've had plenty of opportunities over the past 40 years,” he said.
Golden did have one good memory upon his return. He was hitchhiking and was at the intersection of Route 51 and Interstate 70 in Rostraver Township.
A man he described as a hippie type with long hair picked him up. The man went out of his way to give Golden a ride home.
“Maybe I need to think about my opinion about hippies,” he joked.