A Canby couple believes it’s time the United States apologizes for the way Vietnam-era veterans were treated after returning home from the front lines of the deeply unpopular war — and, later this year, they’ll be taking their message cross-country.
Thanks to the support of several generous sponsors, Ken and Malinda Buckles, of the local nonprofit Remembering America’s Heroes, have launched the new project, Honoring Vietnam Veterans Across America, which will include a cross-country road trip to honor and thank Vietnam veterans, as well as apologize for the shameful way many of them were treated upon returning home.
Planned to start in Canby on October 28, the Buckles will travel the country over the course of 45 days, stopping in at least 28 communities to meet and listen to Vietnam veterans and their families, and share their simple message of hope and healing.
“The government of New Zealand apologized to their Vietnam veterans for the way they were mistreated, and that was almost 15 years ago,” Ken Buckles said. “It is well past time for our country to do the same.
“Our courageous Vietnam veterans did not receive the heroes’ thank you and welcome home that they deserved. Instead, they were screamed at, insulted, abused and even spit on. It is a stain on our nation’s memory — but it’s never too late to try and right a wrong.”
The Honoring Vietnam Veterans Across America tour has been supported by La Quinta Inn & Suites, which will provide lodging for the team, and Weston Buick GMC in Gresham, which is loaning the Hummer that will transport the team cross-country.
Weston is also donating the custom wrap for the vehicle, including an apology message for Vietnam veterans that will be seen by thousands of Americans across the country.
The Canby City Council also lent its support to the project, becoming the first municipal sponsor of HVVAA, and voting to issue a proclamation apologizing to the Vietnam-era veteran community — the first known city in the United States to do so.
The planned tour is the latest phase in a project that Buckles and his wife, Malinda, have been engaged in for several years. It was in 2019 that the Buckles first made it their mission to personally apologize to every Vietnam veteran they met for the way they were treated when they returned home.
Later that year, on Veterans Day, dozens of local businesses, organizations and individuals joined the Buckles in wearing T-shirts bearing the Vietnam service ribbon and the message, “Dear Vietnam Veterans: I’m So Sorry for the Way You Were Treated When You Came Home!”
“The support by businesses and community members for our veterans has never ceased to amaze us,” Ken Buckles said. “Many places say ‘thank you’ to our veterans, but it’s not just words here, and it never has been. ‘Thank you’ really means something here in Canby.”
The tour will also include stops at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.; in Charleston, W.V., at the home of Cpl. Frank Buckles (Ken Buckles’ relative and the nation’s last World War I veteran); and in Flagstaff, Ariz., at the home of Gold Star father Percy Piestewa, whose daughter, Spc. Lori Piestewa, was the first Native American woman military service member killed in action.
For more information or to follow along with the journey, visit rahusa.us or the Honoring Vietnam Veterans Across America Facebook page.
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