The aging veterans who were called “baby killers” and witnessed mass protests in the streets are being embraced by Engage Your Destiny. Engage founder Ben Patterson, who served two tours in Iraq while in the U.S. Army, tells AFN the veterans of the Vietnam War are the special guests at a Memorial Day event sponsored by the group.
“We are really focusing on Vietnam veterans because of the way that they were treated when they came home from Vietnam,” Patterson tells AFN. “Many were shamed, spit on, treated extremely poorly.”
The event headliner is country music star Toby Keith who will be joined by other musical acts, numerous patriotic speakers, and aircraft flyovers. As expected, the schedule includes recognition of Vietnam veterans which includes a vigil for the 58,220 killed in action.
Approximately 6.1 million Vietnam-era veterans are living today according to the Veterans Administration.
The average age of a soldier in Vietnam was 19 years old, meaning the youngest of those who served when the war officially ended in 1975 are in their mid-60s today.
The majority of Vietnam veterans have never been honored for their sacrifice, Patterson says.
“And that's why we believe it's never too late,” he tells AFN. “It's never too late to honor someone for the sacrifice.”