By Andrew Wroblewski
Town of Huntington officials added 378 names to the town’s Vietnam War monument on June 11 during a ceremony that coincided with the 40th anniversary of the war’s end and the naming of Huntington’s Veterans Advisory Board as a Vietnam War Commemoration partner by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We fought for our country; we fought for each other; we prayed that we would survive our 365 days and wake up… to return to the green, green grass of home,” Paul Kelly, chair of the Vietnam committee of the Town’s Veterans Advisory Board, said during the ceremony as he remembered his time serving in Vietnam. “Today we celebrate, thank and recognize the men and women who served our nation, and Huntington, with gallantry and honor during the Vietnam War.”
Of the 1,800 current or former Huntington residents that served in the Vietnam War, Kelly said, 1,540 of those veterans are now represented on the town’s memorial, which originally opened in 2003 and was closed to additions in 2008.
The wall was reopened to additional names, however, in 2013 after representatives from the Huntington High School Class of 1964 reunion committee approached Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone.
After additional names were submitted, a total of 378 were added on June 11.
Earlier that day, the names of the 49 Huntington residents who were killed during the Vietnam War were read in remembrance as a part of a breakfast program that was attended by more than 400 people.
“Much has changed in the four decades since the war’s end,” Petrone said in a press release. “Included among those changes is a broader understanding of the depth of the sacrifice made by all those who served in the war and an even greater appreciation of what they did in response to duty’s call.”
According to the Vietnam War Commemoration’s official website, the Huntington board becomes one of 8,387 partners across the globe; and one of 17 in Suffolk County.
The program is designed for federal, state and local communities, veterans’ organizations and other nongovernmental organizations to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War and their families through events and activities, which highlight the veterans.