Gulf Coast Vietnam Veterans Salute Event Attracts Hundreds
MOBILE, Ala. — More than 1,200 Vietnam Veterans, family members and Veteran supporters from across the Gulf Coast descended on USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park on March 31 to give Vietnam Veterans the welcome home and appreciation for their service many of them never received.
As the Honor Ride parade of motorcycles, military vehicles, vans and buses made its way through downtown Mobile towards the park, hundreds of residents came out of their homes and lined the streets to cheer the Veterans on.
“It was a sight to see,” Thomas Wisnieski, director, said, who donned his leather vest and made the trek from Biloxi to Mobile to ride in the parade. “The community support was heartwarming.”
Once the parade reached the park, the support and camaraderie among the Veterans and event attendees was even more evident. Reunion tents, resource tents and distinguished guests peppered the park’s landscape.
One of those distinguished guests was Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who revealed to the crowd that the section of Interstate 10 which runs through the southern tip of Alabama has been named Vietnam War Memorial Highway.
Past and present Mobile Mayors Mike Dow and Sam Jones, Park Commission Chairman Bill Callender and Wisnieski were featured speakers during the event’s opening ceremony. Appreciation, healing and never forget your fallen comrades were common themes within each speech.
“What a great day, this is wonderful,” one Marine Veteran said to a friend. “It’s good to see the community come out and support us like this. ”Comments like this could be overheard all over the park and throughout the day. Parents with children in tow took pictures around the vintage military vehicles on display.
Wisnieski and the event planning committee led by Social Work service thank everyone who supported and participated in the event. “This event is one of finest of my career,” Wisnieski said. “It ranks right up near the top.”