The long road to remembrance: A soldier’s fight to honor Vietnam veterans

Fourteen years ago, an idea and vision was dreamed of by Jose G. Ramos.

In 1998, Ramos, a Vietnam veteran participated in a World T.E.A.M. Sports’ 16 day, 1,250 mile bicycle ride through Vietnam. His journey took him through the war-torn areas of Vietnam that he had fought in over a quarter of a century earlier.

The experience proved to be enlightening, oftentimes reflecting on his comrades who lost their lives in the jungles fighting for their country, and the thousands who returned home to the United States and were met with disrespect and disdain. Ramos began brainstorming ways to honor his fellow soldiers’ memories, and to ensure that no soldier returning home from combat would meet the same fate as Vietnam veterans.

Two years later, Ramos started a grassroots campaign to share his idea of a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. He decided to ride his bike from Whittier to Washington, D.C. and ask the White House Administration to proclaim March 30 as national Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

Support for Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day quickly grew and Whittier became the first city to proclaim a day to honor Vietnam Veterans. Soon, other local cities and jurisdictions followed suit. In 2008, I proclaimed the first Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on behalf of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Jose G. Ramos has dedicated his life to honoring the convictions and ideals of so many Vietnam veterans who returned home from the war broken and dispirited. His patience and perseverance finally paid off this week when President Obama officially proclaimed March 29, 2012 as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Vietnam Veterans Day is another day that we can join together as Americans to remember the sacrifices of those who have answered our nation’s call, and to thank those who continue to serve us faithfully everyday, with their hearts and their lives.

Recognition of our military should never be about whether we think a war or conflict is right or wrong. Our nation has asked our military to serve and we must thank those who protect our country, our constitution, our lives and most importantly, our freedom.

Thank you to our Vietnam veterans, like Jose G. Ramos, who fought to protect the very values of this great nation. We enjoy freedom and individual privileges because of your service and sacrifice.

In America there is far more uniting us than separating us. We must pay tribute to those who bravely answer the call to serve…with pride, respect and admiration.