On Sunday, April 15, the City of North Royalton hosted a ceremony at Memorial Park that marked the 48th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Each year, a different community hosts the event with the Vietnam Veterans Of America, West Shore Chapter 249 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 15.
The Vietnam War took place between 1954 and 1975. “Vietnam was a colonial possession of France from 1883 until the Vietnamese victory at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.
The Geneva Accords, signed in July 1954, effectively divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel (latitude 17° N). The Vietnamese Communist Party controlled the North. The South was ruled by the U.S.-backed government of Ngo Dinh Diem,” according to Britannica.com. It has been reported that the U.S. provided financial and military aid to South Vietnam in an attempt to limit the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia. The war resulted in the death of close to 60,000 American soldiers.
The ceremony began with the reading of the names of the 424 Vietnam Veterans from Cuyahoga County, who were killed in the war. A bell was rung after every name read. Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz and some members of the North Royalton City Council joined the group of veterans to commemorate the fallen heros. Bagpiper Bob Dutrach played “End of Battle” at the conclusion of the reading. U.S. Army Veteran Sean Ennis served as the Master of Ceremonies
After the Salute, The Colors took place, Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz gave the opening remarks. “Military service members are viewed as heroes today. We have a reverence for them and their families, paying them the utmost respect. But I think some of us forget, this wasn’t always the case for all our veterans,” stated Antoskiewicz. “Often times, our Vietnam Veterans were overlooked and did not receive the fanfare and honor that today’s servicemen and women do when they returned from war. Vietnam was a very lengthy, deadly war. There were more than 58,000 U.S. military personnel causalities and more than 150,000 others were wounded in the Vietnam War. You hear stories of soldiers, during that time, returning home, grateful to be alive, only to be wounded in other ways on their own soil by fellow Americans. Some were met with indifference; others were met with hostility. The betrayal and pain they felt had to be extremely difficult to endure. The sacrifices these service members made is mighty and worthy of honor. The time away from loved ones, the risks, the stress, the uncertainty, the danger they took on in the name of duty is immeasurable.” He went on to state that “Today, we want to make sure our Vietnam Veterans have the proper, well-deserved welcome home and tribute they should have had then. We thank you for serving our nation, for fighting for our freedoms, and on behalf of our community, I want to say that we are so very sorry for any ill treatment you may have endured as part of defending our country. Please know that what you have done for us is admirable, and we are forever grateful for your service.”
Long time North Royalton Resident and U.S. Army Veteran, Laddie Hula, gave the keynote speech, talking about Veteran Cornelius James Cashman, who gave his life during his service. U.S. Army Veteran Reverend Willie Springer gave the Invocation and Benediction. The Laying of Wreaths was presented by the Vietnam Veterans Of America, West Shore Chapter 249 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 15, along with the South Vietnamese Veterans. The ceremony was concluded by the playing of “Taps” and finally, the bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.”
By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK