Vets sought for recognition
In this day and age where Americans pledge to support our troops, it is easy to forget that other generations of soldiers were not so lucky. Especially those who fought in Vietnam.
In June, the state of Minnesota is aiming to rectify wrongs of the past by holding a special event at the capitol, and doing what should have been done years ago -- saying thank you. Farmington's Warrior to Citizen Campaign wants to make sure local Vietnam veterans are there to receive that praise.
On, June 13, the Minnesota Honors Vietnam Vets program will be held on the lawn of the Minnesota state capitol, beginning with a Gold Star Family Prayer Service at 9 a.m., and concluding mid-afternoon after a 2 p.m. Court of Honor presentation by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a flyover by a Vietnam-era aircraft.
Details are still being worked out locally, said Warrior to Citizen organizer Annette Kuyper, but the plan is to take a bus or two of Vietnam veterans and their family members to St. Paul to participate. The only real hitch right now is finding those veterans and their families.
Marschall Bus Lines will provide one charter bus for the event -- two, if needed -- and the plan is for veterans and their families to board buses in the parking lot of the Farmington American Legion. Departure times are still being ironed out, but the buses will return to Farmington following the Governor's address.
But Kuyper wants to make the return trip extra-special. If all goes according to plan, the buses will be escorted back into town by a police squad and possibly the Patriot Guard motorcycle group. The entourage will be taken through Farmington, with hopes of attracting lots of folks outside along the "parade route" to wave flags and give the Vietnam veterans long overdue support.
The buses will come into town on Pilot Knob Road, then take a left on Upper 182nd Street East. At English Avenue, the buses will turn south and continue down English to Akin Road, then head southeast on Akin Road, through the stoplights and continuing down to Spruce Street. The route continues eastbound along Spruce to Third Street, comes north for two blocks through the heart of downtown Farmington, then goes right on Elm Street out to Highway 3, and, finally, goes northbound on Highway 3 back to the Legion parking lot.
Once in the lot, the veterans will be greeted by members of the Farmington High School band who will be there to play some patriotic songs for the honored guests.
"This is another way we can fulfill our mission of recognizing service members within our community," Kuyper said. "Warrior to Citizen is not just about the veterans of today, but all of them. This is a decent welcome home for our Vietnam vets. It's a long time in the coming. It needs to be done, and it needs to be done right now. It's a perfect way to fulfill our mission within the community."
The Farmington Downtown Business Association has indicated its members will mark the parade route with flags and yellow ribbons. The return to Farmington should be somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. (depending on how quickly the buses are loaded and dismissed from the capitol), and Kuyper hopes to see residents outside when the buses roll through.
Online information about Minnesota Honors Vietnam Veterans: www.mnhonorsvietnamvets.org
Registering local vets and their families: www.farmingtonw2c.org, then go to the Vietnam Vets tab.
Departure times will be updated as information becomes available.