VIETNAM VETS SALUTE CHICAGO FOR SUPPORT OF VETERANS
Chicago (June 10, 1996) --
Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., salutes the city of Chicago for its dedication to America's veterans by presenting a plaque to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and certificates to Jim Balcer and Col. Ken Plummer (USA, ret.), during the opening ceremony of the "Welcome Home +10" celebration Thursday at noon in Daley Plaza. Balcer co-chairs the event's organizing committee with Plummer, a U.S. Army veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
The Welcome Home +10 celebration commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 1986 Chicago Welcome Home Parade, which provided a welcome home salute to Vietnam veterans 11 years after the war ended. The parade drew an estimated 200,000 marchers with 500,000 cheering spectators.
Veterans organizations from around the nation have joined forces to organize this month's celebration. "The efforts of Chicago and all of the veterans services organizations have helped heal psychological wounds from the war in Vietnam," says VVA national president James L. Brazee, Jr., who will be presenting the plaque and certificates at the opening ceremony. "It is important for veterans to know that America recognizes the sacrifices of the young men who gave up their innocence on faraway battlefields." Brazee points out that Chicago's strong show of support is no surprise since there are currently 325,000 Vietnam-era veterans currently living in Illinois.
To honor those who died in Vietnam, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be on display throughout the weekend at the Richard J. Daley Center at Dearborn and Washington streets.
Balcer, the director of Veterans Affairs for the City of Chicago, stresses that the three-day celebration is for all veterans. "It will be historic ... one of the things we are trying to emphasize is yes, it's for Vietnam veterans, but we're inviting all veterans to participate." The organizing committee involves people from more than 15 local veterans organizations, including VVA. Four metro Chicago VVA Chapters (153, 209, 242, and 311), along with others, are actively involved in planning and participating in the event.
Gen. William Westmoreland, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army and commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, will be an honored guest and featured speaker at a Flag Day ceremony Friday at noon in the Daley Center, followed by a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Bismark Hotel. The reception is part of the Flag Day celebrations to be held during the Welcome Home + 10 commemoration festivities. The Bismarck Hotel, located at 171 W. Randolph St. in the Downtown Loop, is just steps away from the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fountain at State Street and Wacker Drive.
Closing ceremonies are planned for Saturday at 6 p.m. in Daley Plaza. In addition to the formal ceremonies, other events are planned. Anyone needing information on the events should contact Balcer's office at (312) 744-7582 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time.*
Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation's only Congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.
Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization Chartered by
the United States Congress
For Further Information Contact:
Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc.
Attn.: Mokie Pratt Porter
1224 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-5183
Tel: 202-628-2700 ext. 146
General FAX: 202-628-5880
Communications FAX: 202-783-4942