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National Vietnam War Veterans Day

The Vietnam War led to over 58,000 American military deaths, and a total of over two and a half million Americans served in the war. In the early 1960s, military advisors were sent to the country, and by 1963 there were about 16,000 Americans in Vietnam. After the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, the conflict expanded, and by 1968 there were 500,000 troops in the country. After about a decade of war, the last American troops came home on March 29, 1973.

The Vietnam War was a war of great controversy, with many strongly opposed to it, while others supported it. Most veterans did not return home to parades and celebration, unlike those who had served in World War II and returned home a generation earlier. Many veterans came home physically wounded, and faced post-traumatic stress syndrome or other health issues.

Congress authorized and requested President Nixon to make a proclamation for a Vietnam Veterans Day. Thus, President Nixon issued a proclamation designating March 29, 1974, as Vietnam Veterans Day. He called for the flag to be displayed on public buildings, and for ceremonies and observances across the country to honor those who had served.

Over the years the day has been observed informally, and most states have passed resolutions for days such as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day or Vietnam Veterans Day. These days have been observed on either March 29 or March 30. In 2012, President Obama issued a proclamation making March 29 of that year Vietnam Veterans Day. In 2017, Congress passed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, which President Trump signed into law. This created National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which is observed each year on March 29, and on which the American flag is to be displayed.

How to Observe National Vietnam War Veterans Day

On this day it is appropriate to thank a Vietnam veteran for their service. Many veterans felt as if they didn't receive a proper homecoming, and it may mean much to them to let them know you appreciate the sacrifice they made to serve their country. It is also appropriate to fly the American flag on this day. If you are in the Washington D.C. area, it would be a fitting day to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You could also spend the day reading a book about the war or watching Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War.

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