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By: Hooper Neale

Perhaps the most rewarding part of attending a Shootout for Soldiers event is the chance to see and interact with the Veterans who benefit from the cause. At the Long Island event this year, this will be especially true. In the Opening Ceremony, there will be a 50th Anniversary Ceremony honoring Veterans of the Vietnam War.

The Long Island Air Force Association, one of the Long Island local charities, will run the ceremony. Their mission is to promote and support the Long Island community in three main ways: by supporting both the Air Force family and all of our Veterans, and by promoting aerospace power and education. The organization sponsors the DOD Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration Program, which allows the program to give these Vietnam Veterans a commemorative medal, ceremonial certificate and a Congressional Proclamation for their services in Vietnam.

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“The ceremony is very moving and to see our Vietnam Veteran’ faces when they get their medal is a sight to see,” said Harry Jacobs, a Long Island event organizer. “Our Vietnam Veterans came home to a different country when they served. They did not get the homecoming that our troops get today. Their homecoming was a disgrace to our country, and those who served deserved so much more from all of us.”

For Jacobs, celebrating these Vietnam Veterans is important not only as an American, but also as a brother. “My brother Alan, who served on a patrol boat on the rivers of Vietnam was one of these veterans, and I know what it was like to be a family member when he returned,” Jacobs explained. “No parties, no parades, just family who loved him and could not wait until he returned home. He deserved better and yet he never blinked an eye. He was proud of his service and went on with his life always remembering his fellow Veterans who he always considered his brothers.”

Jacobs is pleased by the positive change he has seen in Veterans’ returns home. “It is so moving to finally see our Vietnam Veterans being told ‘Welcome Home Heroes’, and it was a long time coming,” Jacobs said. “I did not have to serve because they did, and I was always thankful for the sacrifice they made for us. I’m proud to be part of the Shootout for Soldiers and to see our Veterans honored past and present. The only regret I have is that my brother is no longer with us, as he passed away a few years ago. He would have been really proud to walk with his fellow brothers to receive the 50thAnniversary Metal.”

For those of you able to honor people like Alan Jacobs as well as those Vietnam survivors still with us, please take the time to come out to the Long Island event on July 21st. It will certainly be an unforgettable event.

To learn more about what the ceremony is all about, please visit the Long Island Air Force Association webpage here: http://www.liafa.org/.

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