COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the Vietnam War and for those who survived, coming home was both a blessing and a curse.
"After the Tet Offensive in 1968, the discourse became very prevalent," Jim Fisher, a Vietnam veteran, said. "It kind of broke the heart and minds of people in our country. We lost their support and they thought we should come on home."
Fisher went to Vietnam in 1967 and was wounded in 1968. After recovering from his injury, he volunteered to return to war.
"I wanted to finish what I was selected to do," Fisher said. "I thought there was a just cause in Vietnam."
But unlike Fisher, many of his fellow brothers were not as lucky. He said Memorial Day is about remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"Stop, look around at the memorials and reflect back on the sacrifices that the men and women of this great country have given so you and I can have the freedom that we have today," Fisher said. "They paid the supreme sacrifice."
Dozens of people showed up to Monday's ceremony at the Vietnam memorial inside Columbia Memorial Park. Senator Lindsey Graham and Governor Henry McMaster attended as well.
"This is a day where we remember Americans who died for freedom and nothing is more important," McMaster said. "It's good for the country to remember what we've gone through to get where we are. It helps put a lot of things in perspective."
Graham, who admitted to a golfing outing with President Trump on Sunday, said he is focused on ensuring veterans who return home are treated better than the abrasive attitude many Vietnam veterans encountered.
"I try to rededicate myself to make sure the country is worth fighting and dying for," Graham said. "Making sure the men and women are better taken care of. The best way to honor those who die for our freedom is to celebrate our freedom and use it wisely."
Blue Star Mothers and Gold Star Mothers were also in attendance at Monday's ceremony. They include families consisting of active service members and those who have lost sons and daughters to war.
The event was just one of several Memorial Day ceremonies across the Midlands.