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Governor signs bill to create ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,’ co-sponsored by State Rep. Jan Angel
OLYMPIA — A bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) that designates March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee.
House Bill 1319 would not create a legal holiday, but an annual day of recognition for Washington’s Vietnam veterans, in which all public entities in Washington would be required to fly the National League of Families POW/MIA (prisoner of war/missing in action) flag on March 30.
The measure passed both the House and the Senate unanimously.
Angel attended the ceremonies following the bill signing in which more than 300 Vietnam veterans from across the state gathered at the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the state Capitol campus.
“It’s been 38 years since the war in Vietnam ended and I remember it well – the young men and women who were sent to serve their country and more than 11 hundred of them from Washington state did not return home. They gave their lives when their nation called. Those who did come home following their service were treated very badly and were scorned. That was perhaps the cruelest aspect of the Vietnam war for our soldiers,” said Angel.
“We can never completely heal the scars of the treatment those men and women endured as they returned to American soil. But we can help the healing process,” added Angel. “This measure finally says to these dedicated and brave individuals: ‘Thank you for your service. Thank you and welcome home!’”
The measure was introduced at the request of the Yakama Warriors Association, a group of 190 members, who make sure soldiers are not forgotten. Many of its members are from the Yakama Indian Tribe. They were joined with other tribes and Vietnam veterans during the ceremony Friday.
Also attending with Angel was James Sims, of Shelton, a Vietnam veteran who serves as chairman of the Washington Veterans Legislative Coalition and is the past National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart – a veteran’s service organization with more than 46,000 members nationwide.