BELOIT - On July 4, more than 175 Vietnam Era veterans were honored during a special "Welcome Home" ceremony at the city's annual Independence Day celebration. Each veteran was awarded a specially designed medallion expressing the community's gratitude.
Afterwards, demand for the medallions continued and now the well-known VetsRoll organization is picking up the baton to meet the need.
It has been half a century since the height of the Vietnam War, a period when political turmoil often resulted in those who served experiencing insults rather than a welcome home when their duty was over.
VetsRoll will sponsor a "Salute to Vietnam Era Veterans" program from 4:45-6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.
The effort is being endorsed by communities all across the Stateline Area, and Vietnam vets from throughout the region are invited to attend. VetsRoll is acquiring more of the medallions thanking the veterans for their service, and will award them to individuals during the Eclipse Center event.
Veterans planning to attend are asked to fill out registration forms, which will be published in the Beloit Daily News regularly over the coming days before the event. An interactive online form also is available for veterans to use at the newspaper's website (beloitdailynews.com).
Registration is not mandatory, said Mark Finnegan, founder of VetsRoll. Some veterans may not feel comfortable registering, Finnegan said, but they are welcome to attend the Sept. 8 event and receive a medallion. The sole purpose of asking for early registration, Finnegan said, is to be sure VetsRoll has enough medallions on hand.