Vietnam veterans honored at DAR wreath ceremony in Springfield

The Daughters of the American Revolution held a small ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park for National Vietnam Veterans Day Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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The Daughters of the American Revolution held a small ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park for National Vietnam Veterans Day Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

National Vietnam War Veterans Day was given a personalized local touch on Monday afternoon that included memories, honor and a few tears.

Around 10 people gathered in Veterans Memorial Park around the Vietnam memorial monuments in a wreath-laying ceremony organized by the Lagonda Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. It’s the first time the local group has participated in the effort, which DAR chapters around the country perform annually.

“Patriotism is one of our four missions,” said Pat Nowicki, Regent of the Lagonda Chapter, who was joined by fellow members Jackie Brown, Sarah Webb, Marianne Ober and Jackie Juergens.

ExplorePHOTOS: National Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony

Usually at this time of year, a remembrance ceremony is done at Springfield’s VFW Post #1031, but was canceled for the second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to safety restrictions, only 10 were able to attend Monday’s event.

“The size of the attendance isn’t what matters here, it’s the honoring of Vietnam veterans that does,” said Brown, who emceed the event. It included patriotic activities including the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” led by Webb and a proclamation from the City of Springfield presented by Ober.

Springfield Vietnam veteran Randy Ark was recognized for his service. Ark, who earlier this year was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he received in the war, has spoken at DAR events and at previous Day of Remembrance ceremonies at the VFW, and was appreciative of the DAR presenting this event in its place.

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John Campbell, a Marine who served in Vietnam in 1965-66 and represents the Ohio Marine Corps League Detachment H. Eugene “Doak” Walker #963, was a featured speaker. He talked about his family’s crest having the motto “Never Forget” and how fitting that was for this day.

“Today, that means a lot. There the more than 58,000 names on the Vietnam Wall,” he said, naming widows, victims of friendly fire, POWs and countless others associated with the war. “May we never forget.”

Campbell later added he was looking forward to 2022 for VFW Post #1031′s ceremony to return bigger than before.

Nowicki placed the red, white and blue wreath at the base of the memorial as Marine Corps League member John Eichelberger performed “Taps” on his trumpet. Brown fought off tears as she concluded the ceremony.

Lagonda Chapter members said they hope to continue marking this day. In December 2020, they also participated in another national DAR event, National Wreaths Across America Day, recognizing those who serve or have served in the U.S. military and to teach about the value of freedom at the Columbia Street Cemetery and want to continue that tradition as well later this year.

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