SKOWHEGAN — A Memorial Day gathering Monday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., marked the beginning of a national commemoration of the anniversary of the Vietnam War.

“This month, we’ll begin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when, to our shame, our veterans did not always receive the respect and the thanks they deserved — a mistake that must never be repeated,” President Obama said this month.

In a proclamation released Monday, the president said: “As a grateful nation, we honor more than 58,000 patriots — their names etched in black granite — who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know.”

Locally, some Vietnam veterans assembled for Memorial Day ceremonies in Skowhegan were reluctant to share their experiences returning home from the jungles of Southeast Asia.

But Gerald Boulette, 67, of Skowhegan, said Monday the treatment returning Vietnam veterans received was nothing short of a national disgrace.

“I was in Vietnam from December of ’66 until December ’67 — I was all over South Vietnam,” he said at Veterans Memorial Park. “We were treated like mud when we got back; we were treated like nothing because everyone was against the war.”

Veterans are treated differently now, he said.

“It’s a lot different now,” Boulette said. “We’ve got a lot more respect from a lot of people and we really appreciate it.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

 


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