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Fifty years later, outpouring of gratitude for Vietnam vets

Five decades ago, military veterans returned home to a nation deeply conflicted about the Vietnam War. Those who served often found themselves caught in the middle of a raging domestic battle about the war itself—and denied the widespread admiration and gratitude that had greeted previous generations of returning service members.

Now America is saying an overdue thank you, with more than 5,000 events around the country commemorating the war and the sacrifices and accomplishments of those who served.

One of those observances takes place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30, at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The event is free and open to the public, and will include musical performances, guest speakers and an exhibition of memorabilia from the era.
Among the highlights:

  • The musical stylings of actor and musician Tucker Smallwood on blues guitar. Smallwood, known for his appearances on Star Trek, is a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient and serves as a prominent advocate for veterans.
  • A presentation by Luis Soto, another Vietnam vet and Purple Heart recipient, who has received critical acclaim as one of the directors of HBO’s The Vietnam War Story.
  • Keynote speaker Eileen Moore, an associate justice of the California Court of Appeals, who served as a combat nurse in Vietnam.


The event is presented by the county Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

The observances grow out of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized the Secretary of Defense to honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including prisoners of war and those who were listed as missing in action, in broad-based commemorative events in every corner of the country. For more information on events nationwide, click here.

For more information or to register for the event at Patriotic Hall, click here.