The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, and co-sponsored by lawmakers from both parties, wouldn’t give anyone a day off work, but would set the day aside as an official day to honor veterans of the conflict. Combat operations in Vietnam officially ended on March 29, 1973.
Knight, himself a Vietnam veteran awarded the Silver Star, said he felt it was time for veterans of the conflict to have a separate commemorative day.
“I never felt that the veterans who served in Vietnam got the recognition they deserve,” Knight said.
Local Vietnam veterans cautiously supported the idea.
“It sounds good to me,” said Bobby George, a Talladega resident who served as an infantryman in Vietnam. Last month, George was belatedly awarded the Silver Star for his actions on the battlefield in 1969. Asked if he thought the idea of Vietnam Veterans Day came too late, George said he’d always considered Veterans Day the holiday for those who served in the conflict.
“Anybody that wants to celebrate veterans, I'm all for it,” said Matt Pepe, 70, who at 22 fought in the Ia Drang Valley in the early years of American involvement in Vietnam.
Pepe said the best way to honor veterans is to improve the services offered to them post-war.
“Recognize them by helping them,” he said.
The bill is scheduled for a House committee vote Wednesday. Approval by committee would give the bill only three days to pass both houses of the Legislature. Knight said the bill has bipartisan support and could make it through both houses in time.
Capitol & statewide correspondent: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.