In response to a special request from U. S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, Daughters of the American Revolution, Commemorative Partners of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, joined with their communities in observance of the anniversary of the end of a decade-long intervention of U. S. support in the Vietnam War, on March 29, 1973, throughout the nation.
March 29, 2016, was proclaimed as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” by Gov. Jay Nixon, resulting in ceremonies and special programs in honor of Vietnam veterans throughout Missouri, who were officially recognized for their service, sacrifice, and courage, with a heartfelt "Thank you from a Grateful Nation.”
The DAR has been significantly involved in the Commemorative Partner Program since its inception in 2012, and has been very influential in creating an increased public awareness of the Vietnam War and the many transgressions suffered by Vietnam veterans as the result of an unpopular political war.
The Blue Springs Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Mayor Carson Ross, and the City of Blue Springs, sponsored a special event at the Veterans Way Memorial, in Pink Hill Park, and were joined by Commander James L. Scott, and members of the Western District Missouri Society Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard (also Commemorative Partners), the American Legion Post #499 Rifle Squad, and several other veterans groups.
Lemira Parks, vice chair of the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Committee, led the pledge of allegiance, and assisted Mayor Ross in presenting commemorative lapel pins, stickers, presidential proclamations, and other informational material to over 200 Vietnam veterans in the post-program reception. MSSDAR State Treasurer Joan Magee; Honorary State Regent, past Vice President General Mary Lynn Tolle; Blue Springs Chapter Regent Paula Clyma; and other area Daughters were also available to distribute the materials received from the U. S. Department of Defense, and visit with the veterans and their families, many of whom had attended an earlier commemoration event hosted by the Independence Pioneers Chapter (Linda Dimon, regent) at Swan Lake Cemetery in Grain Valley, owned by the only living Medal of Honor Recipient from the Vietnam War, Col. Donald "Doc" Ballard, who was their featured guest speaker.
The Veterans Way Memorial, dedicated in 2012, as a place of peace and reflection for all veterans, provided a perfect forum for the Blue Springs event, which included a presentation to Mayor Ross by Commander John D. Dismer, Missouri Military Order of the Purple Heart, designating Blue Springs as a Purple Heart City. The program, “Honoring Our Heroes: Reflections of the Vietnam War” featured shared experiences and stories from three Vietnam veterans: Mayor Ross, Vietnam veteran (Army); Jim Maher, author of "All Would Be Heroes," Vietnam veteran (Navy); and Chuck Lear, Vietnam Veterans of America-Kansas City Chapter, Vietnam veteran (Marines.)
Blue Springs Chapter Chair of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Committee Eleanor Frasier organized the event, with a committee of representatives of Vietnam veterans groups, the city of Blue Springs, Blue Springs Public Art Commission, and members of the Blue Springs Chapter DAR.
In a very moving wreath-laying ceremony, a commemorative wreath, donated by Village Gardens in Blue Springs, in memory of WP4 William Arthur Michael, the only Blue Springs resident who was killed in action during the Vietnam conflict, was laid in his honor by Blue Springs High School District Air Force Junior Cadets. Other commemorative wreaths were laid by American Legion Post #499; AMVETS-Post 181; Blue Springs Chapter DAR; High Noon Federated Republican Women; Missouri Society Sons of the American Revolution; Veterans Administration-Kansas City; Vietnam Veterans of America-Kansas City Chapter.
The KCVA mobile Vet-Center unit (Michael Focke, Kansas City VA), and an authentic "Huey" helicopter displayed by Vietnam Veterans of America-Kansas City Chapter 243, that had been shot down four times in Vietnam, were significant attractions before and after the program, and provided opportunities to learn more about area veterans services and veterans organizations.
The post-program reception included refreshments provided by Blue Springs Hy-Vee, Blue Springs Park and Recreation Department, Blue Springs Public Art Commission, and the Blue Springs Chapter DAR.