Wheeling Elks Club Urges Community to Observe Vietnam Veterans Day

Photo by Heather Ziegler Wheeling Elks Lodge 28 member Pat Duffy will honor Vietnam veterans on Thursday at Main Street Bank.

Warwood resident Pat Duffy never served in the U.S. military, but his dad and three brothers did. A case of rheumatic fever prevented Duffy from putting on a uniform when he was originally called up during the Bay of Pigs under President John Kennedy’s term in office.

However, Duffy has always had his heart in honoring veterans. As patriotism chairman at Wheeling Elks Lodge 28, he never misses an opportunity to honor those who have served and who are currently serving our country via the military.

On Thursday, National Vietnam War Veterans Day, Duffy invites area veterans to stop in at Main Street Bank in downtown Wheeling for refreshments, fellowship and a chance for him and his lodge to say thanks to the men and women who served during the controversial war.

“I never pulled an American flag across a desert, or up the mast of a ship, but I will always carry the flag in my heart,” Duffy said.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29 honors the men and women who served and sacrificed. Between 1964 and 1975, West Virginia provided the most troops per capita in the country with 36,578 Mountain State residents serving during the Vietnam War.

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary “The Vietnam War” made for PBS last year, makes note that a disproportionate number of African-Americans were taken from inner cities across the country as well as many “poor West Virginians.”

Duffy said many Vietnam veterans were not treated kindly as they returned from duty. Many Americans believed the war to be unnecessary. Protests were held across the country, with a heavy presence of protesters in Washington, D.C.

Combat and combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam on March 29, 1973. The war involved five U.S. presidents and 500,000 U.S. military personnel. The war took 58,000 American lives. Most were drafted into service.

U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced legislation in 2017 to honor Vietnam Veterans with a day on the anniversary of the withdrawal of military units from South Vietnam. President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Day Act on March 28, 2017, calling for U.S. flags to be flown on March 29 for those who served.

On Thursday, Duffy suggests observing National Vietnam War Veterans Day by thanking a veteran, buying him or her lunch, or treating them in other ways.

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