BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Vietnam War was remembered in Biloxi on Saturday at the National Cemetery. More specifically, the men and women who fought in that war half a century ago.
The Crusaders for Veterans led the way in organizing the event in partnership with the Biloxi National Cemetery. The organizations brought generations together to celebrate the men and women who served our country in Vietnam.
"Vietnam veterans just really never got a proper welcome home and a thank you and so on this anniversary this is something that we all felt needed to happen," said Sandie Schlett.
Schlett helped with the effort to make that official welcome home happen. As Senior Ride Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of the Mississippi Gulf, Schlett has a close connection with military personnel.
"I think all of us involved in this effort either know somebody that's in military or been in the military and realizes the sacrifices they make," Schlett added..
Schlett's cousin died serving in the Army. She says being a part of the day held a very personal meaning to her.
Gary Curtiss remembers his days in Vietnam first hand. He says he was in the first Navy canine unit in the late 60's.
"And when I came home, I was spit on, I was called names, I was attacked physically," said Curtiss.
He says he and his fellow servicemen and women found it hard to be proud of their service when they returned. For Curtiss, that changed as soon as he arrived at the National Cemetery for the day's commemoration.
"You look out here today. You look at all of these people. You'll find everyone of these guys is now allowed to be proud of their country, allowed to be proud of their service, and we have people welcoming us home," said Curtiss. "We're all here to stand together, and it's time we get back together."
The riders took a police-escorted "Ride for Pride" trip from the cemetery in Biloxi to Waveland. Once in Waveland, Crusaders for Veterans provided a free meal and live music. Sponsors for the event included Riemann Family Funeral Homes, RAS Enterprises, American Legion Post 42, Veterans of Foreign Wars post 4526, Gulf Coast Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee and the Disabled American Chapter 17.
The ceremony also included a presentation of the POW/MIA ceremony by the D'Iberville Jr. ROTC cadets.