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Vietnam War veterans receive “welcome home” at York Expo Center

WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, P.A. ---- Veterans from all branches of the military capped off National Vietnam War Veterans Day celebrating their sacrifice at the York Expo Center with a recognition ceremony Thursday evening.

Some veterans, including Harold Redding from Spring Grove, said honoring Vietnam War veterans is "long overdue."

"I hope all the veterans take this day and enjoy the attention that they're getting because it didn't happen for so long," said Redding.

Redding, who put months of effort into creating the nationally recognized day last year, said his message for the day was encouraging veterans to take pride in their service

"They can be bitter about the war and they have earned the right to be bitter about the war. But don't be bitter about your service because the service of all those who served in that era and in Vietnam was honorable and worthy of admiration from our country," said Redding.

Veterans like Joseph Butler, who served in the Navy Construction Battlation in the Vietnam War, reflected on the difficulties of returning home after the polarizing war.

He said they felt abandoned by even some of their own peers.

"It was a shame the way they treated us. We're not doing that to these new Afghanistan and Iraqi war vets, we're welcoming them home," said Butler.

The veterans marched together to the Vietnam War Memorial at the York County Fairgrounds.

Butler said it's a moment they've longed for because each knows what the other went through.

"It actually brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. We're all brothers. Vietnam vets is a brotherhood. We've all been through the same war, we all know what it was like...How bad it was...It was the worst that could be worse...It was worse...Couldn't be any worse than what it was. We all went through Hell," said Butler.