NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Each year, the group Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 886 in New Bern hosts an event to honor and remember the Vietnam war. Wednesday marked 50 years since the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam.
“Something that happened 50 years ago, the majority of people here in New Bern were never born, were not born, were born after the war was served,” said Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 886 member Rick Miller.
Veterans gathered at Union Point Park on Wednesday to speak with the community about their time in Vietnam, where they served, how they felt and what they did.
“Both myths and facts of the war, why we were there, and what we endured during the war and what we endured after we came home from the war,” Miller said.
Veterans could even record their personal experiences on their phones or devices. These recordings will be stored in an archive in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“You can use your electronic device and go on and give your story of what you’d like to share with your experience as a veteran in Vietnam,” Miller said.
Miller said it is a race against the clock to get these records.
“There’s a statistic that there are only about 31 percent of the Vietnam veterans still existing right now. The Vietnam Veterans of America, the national organization, is going to shut down in eight years,” he said. “So we would hope that the education of the war would never ever be, even though it was a horrible thing for our country, that it will never be forgotten.”
Veterans at the event said the recordings are important.
“To help the younger generations understand what our experiences were and the feelings that we had. Those that had served at Vietnam felt it was an honor to serve their country at that time,” said Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 886 member Darrel Dennis.
One member of Chapter 886 put together a gallery at New Bern’s Bank of the Arts, honoring local chapter members.
“I decided to do this when over the last couple of years we lost a couple guys out of our own chapter here that passed away,” said member Tom McCabe. “To put the older photographs from when we were kids, and that’s what we were.
“We were kids, you know? I just want people to see that we lived, and we did what we did and here we are. I guess I don’t know how else to put it.”