COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Thursday, dozens of veterans pushed back their kickstands for a police-led motorcycle ride to the State House. There, they were met by Governor Henry McMaster as he proclaimed that March 29th is South Carolina Vietnam War Veterans Day, sharing the day with the federally recognized day.
WIS-TV continues our Year of the Veteran series and explains why this recognition has a painful history with many of our Vietnam War veterans.
Many Vietnam War veterans say they didn't always feel appreciated for the sacrifices they made for our freedom.
"When we came home, our war was not popular," Vietnam Veteran and Carolina Honda Owner, Jim Wertman, said. "We were spit on. We were called names. There's still a tremendous amount of hurt in the Vietnam War veteran community to this day, because we never were acknowledged for what we did."
That acknowledgment is changing, starting at the top. President Donald Trump signed The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017
"Things have changed now. They realize the importance of it," says Bernard Shankman a 95-year-old World War II veteran.
As part of that change, Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed that March 29th would be South Carolina Vietnam War Veterans Day, sharing the day with President Trump's established day.
"[Service members] had a hard time when they came back from Vietnam," Shankman said. "So, I think it's a privilege to honor them now."
March 29 marks the anniversary of the withdrawal of combat and combat support troops from South Vietnam.
Wertman says the day is meant "to honor all of the South Carolina Vietnam veterans — those that made it back and those that did not make it back."
Some vets say Thursday's recognition wouldn't be complete without their favorites set of wheels
"Probably about 70% of all motorcycle riders in the state of South Carolina are veterans," Wertman said.
That freedom ride led them to State House where Governor McMaster thanked them for their service, and for our country's freedom.
"It's such a joy to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the freedom of riding," Shankman said.
Veterans met at Carolina Honda before taking off for the State House.
A footlocker containing 982 yellow ribbons for the South Carolina Vietnam veterans who never made it home, will be delivered to the governor's office.