Ceremony at Florida National Cemetery honors Vietnam War vets

Local News

Bruce Burnham is a historian and Vietnam combat veteran. 

The Tampa native served as an MP in Vietnam in 1972 and 1973.

During his tour of duty, he earned the Bronze Star for bravery.

Tuesday, Burnham was the keynote speaker in a ceremony to honor others who served.

“That was a very, very difficult time for many of us who just wanted to come back and be normal again,” said Burnham.

The gathering at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell was small.

Burnham believes it is because many Vietnam vets still shy away from ceremonies and talking about their service in public because of the way they were treated by protestors when they returned from the war.

Steve Duval served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 and experienced the wrath of protestors first hand.

“I had people spit at me and call me a baby killer and I thought, ‘this is no way to treat a veteran,'” said Duval.

The treatment both veterans received when they returned to the United States is part of the reason President Trump designated March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Duval says it’s nice to be recognized, even if it is 50 years later.

“This is something wonderful. This is something we missed out on. We should have been treated like this when we came back from Vietnam,” said Duval.

Burnham believes celebration like the one today should continue.

“I think it’s just a time now where it’s important that we don’t wait any longer and we say, ‘thank you, welcome home,'” said Burnham.

Follow Jeff Patterson on Facebook

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