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Recognizing Vietnam Veterans Day in South Dakota

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 11:06 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Monday is National Vietnam Veterans Day and Governor Kristi Noem has called on all South Dakotans to recognize the courage, service, and sacrifice of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

More than 40 years later, we’re still recognizing the Vietnam Veterans who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

“I’m just honored that the state of South Dakota is honoring our Vietnam Veterans,” said Gene Murphy, a Vietnam Veteran and Disabled American Veterans Secretary & Treasurer.

“It makes ‘em feel like, ‘Hey, I did something that was important and was good for my country. So, it’s nice to be recognized,” said Vietnam Veteran Phil Braeger.

Over 27,000 South Dakotans served in the Vietnam War and 210 of them made the ultimate sacrifice.

Veterans Gene Murphy and Phil Braeger both say the recognition is a lot different than what many vets came home to over 40 years ago.

“North Dakota, South Dakota, this area, they treated their Veterans pretty good but the people on the coast and in the cities, it was not a pleasant experience for some of our guys. And so, to actually have someone recognize when we came back what we did, it’s a good feeling,” said Braeger.

“A lot of them when they came home from Vietnam they weren’t really honored at all. When I came home for good back to South Dakota, a little town called White, South Dakota, I was honored by 200 citizens who came up and thanked me for my service so I think that was something that you didn’t see a lot,” said Murphy.

They want the day to be about remembering both those that were lost and those that are still dealing with the affects of the war to this day.

“You know, we have a lot of Vietnam Vets that are coming down with different ailments from the Agent Orange that we’re trying to assist, get ‘em into the V.A. health care system and also get them benefits that have earned,” said Murphy.

For those that are unsure about how to honor our Vietnam Vets today, or any day, Murphy and Braeger say answer is simple.

“Just going up and saying thank you for your service and maybe even visiting with them because a lot of them might even tell you some of the history that they went through that you’ve never heard before,” said Murphy.

“We don’t expect the people that stayed behind to understand and most of us will thank God none of them ever have to understand it. And just saying thanks for keeping me safe is the greatest thing that can happen. That’s all we can ask and we don’t ask any more,” said Braeger.

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