For a quarter-century, America has wrestled with the heartaches caused by the lack of a real welcome-home for the Vietnam War veterans. Determined not to let it happen again, state officials decided to hold a big celebration for Desert Storm service men and women.
The official state homecoming parade is set to march off at noon, Memorial Day, May 27, in Ogden.Trouble is, just as with Vietnam, the Persian Gulf war seems to be rapidly fading from the public consciousness - it's now a war that has passed into history, and few are contributing to help pay for the parade.
The latest figure parade organizer Wynn Covieo has heard is $1,578 raised from throughout Utah. "The entire state," he emphasized.
Organizers had hoped to raise $16,000 to $20,000, much of it through in-kind gifts, to help pay for the celebration. The expenses include transportation and hotel accommodations for the local and national entertainers, building the reviewing stand, flags for people along the route, and bunting.
"We're to decorate a mile of downtown Ogden, every tree and lamppost, with red, white and blue," he said. "Also, the reviewing stand with flags and bunting - whatever's required." After all, they don't want Gov. Norm Bangerter to be standing in a bare wooden box when he reviews the troops.
"We want to purchase several thousand small flags to hand out on the parade route and at the Dee Events Center."
Then there are the decorations for the Dee Events Center at Weber State University, where a celebration will be held at 5 p.m. that day. The planned grand finale is an audience-participation, flag-waving burst of patriotism - and that means handing out things for the crowd to wave.
Programs - let's not forget the programs. Parade planners want to print 50,000 of them to pass out along the route, including 12,000 for the Dee Events Center celebration.
"We initiated a statewide fund-raising drive with all First Security Bank locations in the state as the collecting point," Covieo said. "We opened up an account and got the word out through as many media sources as we could."
Those wishing to make donations can do so at the nearest First Security Bank, using account number 032-45599-33.
"We've been getting a lot of small donations coming in - $5 and $10 - which we really appreciate. We've gotten very few large donations. I think the biggest check we've gotten is $250 from an individual."
Because defense industries play a key role in the state's economy, the big aerospace companies and other defense contractors should chip in - in a big way - right?
"We haven't gotten anything from the corporate side or the business side," Covieo said. "We still think they will."
The group is planning to contact businesses individually, hoping that will help.