Vietnam vets take center stage for Farmington's Patriotic Day
This year marks 40 years since the Paris Peace Accords were signed, providing a cease-fire to the Vietnam War. It also marks 40 years since the last of the U.S. troops was withdrawn from Vietnam.
So it’s only right Farmington’s fourth annual Patriotic Day celebration recognizes and gives thanks to those veterans now, in 2013.
Vietnam veterans came home to a less than thankful reception, and many of those veterans still harbor hard feelings for that. That is part of the reason this year’s Patriotic Day ceremony is dedicated to them.
“I just visited with a Vietnam veteran who is unwilling to speak about his service, due to the treatment he received when he got home,” North Trail Elementary School principal Dr. Steven Geis said. “I told him all of our veterans and service personnel are heroes and I apologized for the way he was treated, and I told him I hoped this Patriotic Day would help with the healing.”
Geis is part of the Patriotic Day ceremony’s planning committee. A group of volunteers has logged hundreds of hours planning this year’s celebration, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 7, at Farmington High School.
Patriotic Day offers a free meal and a program to the entire community. The community dinner begins at 5 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. ceremony in the FHS Recital Hall.
The event is sponsored by a number of Farmington organizations, the school district, the city of Farmington and area churches.
“I think what’s neat about it is the planning committee is made up of a number of groups within the community,” said Annette Kuyper, representing Farmington’s Yellow Ribbon Network. “Kids make placemats and decorate the cafeteria. Student groups help serve the meal. City leaders and school board members help serve the food. It’s a collaborative, all-community event.”
The guest speaker for the 2013 Patriotic Day ceremony will be Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner Larry Shellito, retired Major General of the Minnesota National Guard. Commissioner Shellito began his military career in 1968, when he enlisted in the United States Army. He is also a Vietnam veteran.
The ceremony will open with a roll call of the community’s Vietnam veterans. They will receive preferential seating, but organizers ask that the veterans register ahead of time so their names can be added to the roll call list prior to the ceremony. So far, more than 30 Vietnam veterans have been added to the list.
Though the 2013 ceremony is focused on Vietnam veterans, veterans and military personnel of all ages are invited to enjoy the Patriotic Day ceremony. The community as a whole is also invited to participate.
“We look forward to seeing everyone at this community event,” Geis said.
In order to make reservations, call North Trail Elementary at 651-460-1805, or make reservations on the Farmington School District 192 website, www.farmington.k12.mn.us. The Patriotic Day registration link is on the left side of the school district’s home page.
Free busing will be available for Farmington’s senior citizens. The bus will pick up seniors at Trinity Terrace at 5 p.m., at Spruce Place/Red Oak Manor at 5:20 p.m. and at Vermillion River Crossings at 5:40 p.m.