Vietnam vets presented lapel pins, coins

Courtesy photo: Rep. Dusty Johnson and Brookings area Vietnam veterans gathered at the Brookings County Veterans Memorial on Sept. 2 for a ceremony at which he presented them with a lapel pin and a commemorative coin with the Great Seal of the House of Representatives on one side and the Great Seal of the State of South Dakota on the other side. From left are: John Kubal (Navy),Terry Hill (Army), Randy Hofer, Sr. (Army), David Zoelle (Army), Johnson, Orv Smidt (Army), Leo Stirling (Navy), and Loren Hanson (Army).

BROOKINGS – In a brief ceremony at the Brookings County Veterans Memorial on Sept. 2, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD, at large) recognized Brookings-area Vietnam veterans for their service: each attendee was presented a lapel pin and a coin with the seal of the United States House of Representatives.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Johnson explained. “That’s why the U.S. House of Representatives, along with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has come together in recent years and thousands of these (ceremonies) have been done across the country. It is an opportunity to thank people for their service.”

Before handing the mementoes to each veteran, the congressman briefly described the lapel pin: “The front of the pin is noteworthy: it has an eagle, which represents the strength of the American armed services; it has a laurel wreath, which represents the integrity with which our servicemen and women served; it has stars on a blue color, which is reminiscent of the American flag.”

He noted that the message on the back of the pin is “most meaningful.” Engraved, it reads: “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”

The coin carries the Great Seal of the House of Representatives on one side and the Great Seal of the State of South Dakota on the other side.

“We’ve done five or six of these just in the last couple three weeks,” Johnson said, following the ceremony. “It’s something we want to do more of. Because, No. 1, to me it is righting a wrong. It is also a great opportunity to tell the story of how great this country is and how the service of so many during the Vietnam era helped to keep it a great country. Their service is worthy of recognition.”

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