Vietnam Veterans Gather at Barnegat Ceremony

Working day OF SOLEMNITY: Emcee Thy Cavagnaro provides a welcoming speech as veterans, numerous of whom were bundled up, hear. (Photos by Ryan Morrill)
Virtually 300 people, most of them Vietnam veterans, braved very frigid ailments Tuesday afternoon for the Vietnam Veterans Working day commemoration in Barnegat Township at the Fred Watts Gazebo Park.
“It’s fantastic to back,” stated Thy (pronounced Tee) Cavagnaro, event coordinator and master of ceremonies, noting that the function was canceled in 2020 and 2021 thanks to COVID 19. “This working day is all about you.”
The groundwork for the tribute was laid in 2017, when President Donald Trump signed an act proclaiming March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day. The date was picked simply because March 29, 1973, was the final working day American troops still left South Vietnam.
Cavagnaro does not have to read about the Vietnam War in the history publications – she knowledgeable it to start with hand. Her family fled Saigon on April 30, 1975, several hours just before Communist forces captured the South Vietnamese capital, and took refuge in the U.S. She was a small above a calendar year old at the time.
“This is a thank -you for all people men and women who sponsored us, who clothed us, who fed us and educated us,” she explained. “And it is also a massive thank-you to the veterans who assisted keep the Communists away from our dwelling in Vietnam, and you designed certain we experienced a safe and sound passage to your own country just after we lost ours.”
She said numerous of the soldiers had been “barely grownups.”
“Many of you went as a result of unspeakable predicaments,” said Cavagnaro. “And then when you arrived dwelling, you ended up gaslighted for the reason that you answered the connect with of duty.”
Cavagnaro has pressured that youth in the group need to participate in a key purpose in the commemoration, and this year’s keynote speaker was 10-12 months-aged Vincent Lorenzo. His late grandfather James Beninato was awarded 3 Purple Hearts all through his four-yr tour of Vietnam, and the youngster brought 1 of them with him.
“I want to thank you all from the base of my heart,” he reported. “It was you veterans who have been trying to keep us safe and sound from damage.”
All through the holidays, Lorenzo has manufactured Christmas cards to unfold some pleasure to assistance members. He also built floral arrangements to honor nearby veterans.
“During Halloween, I often like to gown up as a soldier,” he mentioned.
The function also observed an Procedure Babylift Reunion. Steve Hartmann, who was rescued from that mass evacuation in Vietnam, sang an initial music he experienced created and composed for Vietnam veterans titled “You Are.”
But right before he sang, he was joined by retired Air Pressure Master Sgt. Rene Fougeray. The two shared a heartfelt and emotional embrace.
In addition, the Barnegat Higher School Navy Junior ROTC cadets presented the coloration guard and different guidance. Charlie Rollman from Boy Scout Troop 26 led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Russell Brackman Middle Faculty chorus  sang the countrywide anthem.
The Barnegat Substantial Faculty marching band performed an armed forces medley, inviting customers of every branch of service to stand in the course of the theme tune. Dan McGrath, Barnegat Superior Faculty band director, played Faucets on his bugle.
The American flag flying at the event was after flown about the U.S. Capitol, and was introduced courtesy of Congressman Andy Kim.
At the summary, all Vietnam veterans acquired commemorative lapel pins from the U.S. Department of Defense. They were being presented by  South Vietnamese veterans and associates of the Vietnamese community.  —E.E.

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