The Ohio Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored all veterans of the Vietnam "era" in New Martinsville Monday afternoon with a ceremony to unveil a display set up in the window of the Shiben Building on Main Street.
The display honors those veterans of all branches of the military service from Tyler, Wetzel, and Pleasants counties who served in any capacity in the United States military from 1956 through 1975.
The display will remain in the window for the next month and will then be given to the New Martinsville American Legion Post 28.
Members of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicate a temporary installment in downtown New Martinsville honoring all Wetzel, Tyler, and Pleasants counties veterans of the Vietnam “era”. (Photo by Amy Witschey)
Marilyn Rogers, DAR Ohio Valley Chapter Regent, emceed the event which was moved inside because of rain.
"We honor those who served our country with strength, courage, and integrity," said Rogers. She noted there are over 900 names on the wall, and those only represent the Vietnam era veterans of three counties. Similar wall displays were also installed Sunday and Monday in Pleasants and Tyler counties.
Patriot Guard Riders presented the colors and Magnolia High School student Cedar Sands, accompanied by her band director Tom Myers, played Taps. Neoma Spratt, DAR chaplain, gave the invocation. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's Regional Representative Alyssa Petroplus read a statement from the governor recognizing the veterans' "extraordinary dedication." Kent Leonhardt, who is technically a Vietnam era veteran, as he joined the Marine Corp in 1974, but was a combat veteran of the first Gulf War, also spoke. He noted that the World War II generation, often called "The Greatest Generation", raised the Vietnam era veterans. "That spirit of patriotism lives on today in West Virginia," he noted.
The Vietnam war lasted 19 years. During that time, casualties numbered 58,178, with the state of West Virginia having the highest casualty rate in the nation at 711.
Legion Member Wendy Bailes spoke of the Wall of Honor that is being erected between the Legion and Baristas on Main Street, New Martinsville. She said all veterans of Wetzel County, past, present, and future, will be listed on the 80' by 8' wall that is completely funded by donations. The installment will be dedicated on Flag Day, June 14, at noon.