SALT LAKE CITY — The House approved a bill setting aside March 29 annually as Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day.
HB275, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, would require the state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs to promote the day "to heighten public awareness and involvement" in recognizing military service in Vietnam.
"These guys are heroes," Oda said, his voice breaking with emotion as a group of Vietnam-era veterans watched from the House gallery. He said he hoped the recognition would offer closure to the veterans.
"They were spat upon, kicked off buses, kicked out of hotels and restaurants," Oda said of the reception many veterans received upon returning from the contentious war. The veterans, he said, "truly sacrificed."
The date for the day of recognition was chosen, Oda said, because it was the last day soldiers in 1973 left Vietnam for home.
The bill was approved 68-0, and the veterans in the gallery were given a standing ovation by House members.
The bill now goes to the Senate and if it approved by at least two-thirds of the senators, it would take effect immediately upon the governor's signature.
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