For vets, 'thank you' has been a long time coming
Farmington residents will have the opportunity to say a long overdue thank you to the community's Vietnam-era veterans this weekend.
On Saturday, a group of Vietnam-era veterans and their families will board a bus at the Farmington American Legion. That bus has a specific destination: the Minnesota State Capitol to attend the Minnesota Honors Vietnam Vets program.
The event is hosted by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who will do the Court of Honor presentation at 2 p.m. A flyover is scheduled directly after the governor's address. Local veterans and their families will be able to visit a number of exhibits before boarding the bus to return to Farmington.
The bus trip is being planned by Farmington's Warrior to Citizen Campaign, and is a free shuttle to the state ceremony. Warrior to Citizen organizer Annette Kuyper is hoping the return trip will bring local residents out of their homes to greet the veterans when they return to town.
"This is hopefully going to be the welcome home they should have gotten a long time ago," Kuyper said. "We owe them. Let's show them we are truly the first Yellow Ribbon City and line our streets to welcome them home."
The bus will return to Farmington sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. and take a short tour of the community on the way to the Legion. Kuyper hopes residents along the route will be able to be outside, ready to greet the bus as it rolls through town.
Over the past week, planners have been out, going door to door along the specified route, talking up the event. Kuyper said she would be thrilled to see homes decorated with flags and yellow ribbons, but said even just having residents outside to wave and clap "would be wonderful."
The bus will be preceded by a squad car from the Farmington Police Department, and a truck or two from the Farmington Fire Department. Motorcyclists interested in escorting the bus through town are invited to join in the fun, too -- just show up at North Trail Elementary School by 5 p.m.
Residents can also help welcome the veterans back by gathering at the Legion. The Farmington High School band will be on standby in the parking lot, ready to play patriotic songs when the veterans arrive.
There is still room of the bus, Kuyper says. Any Vietnam-era veteran who would like to attend the ceremony should call Kuyper at 651-460-2248 to get onto the list.