Culpeper National Cemetery Director Lance Pridemore has a special affinity for Vietnam vets. On his return from Iraq, it was a group of Vietnam vets that greeted he and others returning from overseas.
That wasn’t the case for many Vietnam vets in the late 60s who returned not to a hero’s welcome but rather ridiculed and scorned for answering their government’s call to duty.
On Tuesday, Pridemore, Pastor Ludwell Brown, and Keith Price, addressed a large crowd gathered at the Culpeper National Cemetery to honor those Vietnam vets at a 50th Commemorative Ceremony. Specially designed lapel pins were handed out.
Two longtime residents Lee Corbin and Taylor Griffin told their interesting story to Pridemore. Corbin, who now lives in Holden Beach, North Carolina, and Taylor grew up in Culpeper and lived only five miles away from each other. They went to grade school together and they were both called to serve in Vietnam but to different units. Fate stepped in and while in Vietnam their paths crossed again some 10,000 miles away.
On Tuesday, they shared memories.
Keith Price was the guest speaker and his remarks are printed in full. He captured the pain of that conflict, the injustice done to those returning, and the small attempt now to paid some tribute for years of neglect to Vietnam vets. The pin and its symbolism is described on the page after that.
More than 58,000 died in that conflict. Of those who returned, many continue to suffer from the effects of Agent Orange and emotional stress. As Pridemore remarked, perhaps it is because of their inequities that more has been done for the veterans of other wars.