House approves Rep. Johnson’s bill to create a ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day’
Rep. Norm Johnson – (360) 786-7810
House approves Rep. Johnson's bill to create a 'Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day' in Washington
The House of Representatives gave unanimous approval Wednesday to a bill that would create a “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Washington state. Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, who authored House Bill 1319, said it's time to give Vietnam Veterans the honor and recognition they deserve – and didn't get when they returned home from the war more than 38 years ago. “We need to realize that these young men and young women who were called to Vietnam didn't go because they necessarily wanted to go,” said Johnson. “They went to serve this great nation of ours.” The bill would create a day of recognition on March 30 for Washington's Vietnam Veterans. Johnson said the measure was suggested to him by the Yakama Warriors Association, which is a group of 190 members who make sure veterans are not forgotten. During a committee hearing on Feb. 6, association member and Vietnam veteran Gil Calac of White Swan told lawmakers the mistreatment against returning soldiers is still painful to this day. Calac said designating a day of recognition is a small step toward helping the healing process. “Closure helps us put away the guilt, the shame, grief, and the huge betrayal of issues brought up by the anti-war protesters,” said Calac. The bill would not create a legal holiday, but a day of recognition in which all public entities in Washington would be required to fly the National League of Families' POW/MIA (prisoner of war/missing in action) flag on March 30. Johnson, the former mayor of Toppenish, said that community lost 13 men to the Vietnam War – a death rate eight times that of the nation and almost 12 times that of Washington state. The men and women who did return home were portrayed as baby killers and war mongers, he said. “That was perhaps the cruelest aspect of the Vietnam War. There is no way to go back in time and change that mistreatment. However, we have the opportunity to give these soldiers the honor they deserve through this day of recognition,” said Johnson. “House Bill 1319 is a step in the right direction to show these men and women we appreciate their service and they are truly heroes of the United States of America.” The bill, which passed the House, 97-0, now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
###Washington State House Republican Communications