County ceremony organized to formally thank Vietnam vets

12 years ago

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

    CARIBOU — Fifty years after the start of the Vietnam War, local event organizers are hoping to give Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans the formal “thank-you” and “welcome home” they deserve.
    “It’s long overdue,” said event organizer Pete Miesburger, an Air Force veteran himself.
    “I can remember, as a little kid, the World War II veterans coming home from Europe and the Pacific, and there would be block parties to celebrate units coming back,” he recalled. “When the Vietnam guys came home, they didn’t get anything.”
    Instead, Miesburger described how Vietnam veterans — soldiers both drafted and volunteers — were called “baby killers,” spit upon and criticized for their service.
    Fifty years after the start of the war, Miesburger and other organizers are hoping to extend their gratitude and thanks to Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans during the program at noon on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Northern Maine Veterans’ Cemetery in Caribou; the ceremony will take place at next to the POW/MIA Memorial.
    “We want our comrades to come out and all we’re going to do is say ‘thank you for your service,’” Miesburger said.
    An Army veteran who served in Korea and Vietnam, retired Maj. Gen. Stephen Nichols is slated to speak at the event along with fellow Vietnam veteran Peter Ogden, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services.
    A small memorial service will also be held during the ceremony to honor the memory of the 39 Aroostook soldiers who never came home.
    “There were 313 soldiers from Maine killed in Vietnam during that time, and 39 of those troops were from Aroostook County,” Miesburger said, adding that the average age of those soldiers was 20 years old. “These 39 are all Aroostook County guys, from the Allagash to Benedicta, and we’re going to honor their names during a role call.”
    As the program will honor all Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Miesburger felt it was only fitting that the program be held at the military cemetery.
    All Vietnam veterans are encouraged to attend the program, which while be held in their honor rain or shine.
    The Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Caribou is located at 37 Lombard Road in Caribou.