Photo by David Rauzi
People hit the chow line at Sunday’s Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home and Recognition Day event at the Idaho County Veterans’ Center in Grangeville. More than 140 people attended.
As of Tuesday, June 26, 2018
GRANGEVILLE “I still remember what it was like — what it smelled like, what it tasted like — to be in Vietnam. I don’t regret being there and the job we needed to do,” said Preston Funkhouser.
As chairman of the Idaho County Veterans Association (ICVA), and also a two-tour Vietnam War veteran, Funkhouser of Clearwater was keynote speaker to a 140-plus-person assembly at Sunday’s Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home and Recognition Day event at the Idaho County Veterans’ Center in Grangeville.
“There are 58,169 men and women who served with us who are not here,” he said. “These men and women represented the very best America had to offer, reflecting the nation’s different races and social classes.” For those who survived and came marching home, they received a different greeting than those given to their fathers and grandfathers in past conflicts.
“We felt the brunt of a nation’s dissent and were made to feel alien in our native land,” Funkhouser said, “… when all we ever wanted was to be treated like everyday ordinary American men and women.”
“We forever will be changed,” he said. “Our lives will never be same after serving in that theater.”
Going forward, Funkhouser called on veterans to make a difference by being socially and politically involved, and to embrace and support the new crop of veterans and especially those who are disabled.
“That we will pay whatever price, do whatever it takes to help them ease their burden,” he said.
“We risked, and lost, life and limb to serve our country. We are the mark and caliber by which great nations are measured…,” Funkhouser said. “We gave our very lives and our futures. May the day never come when the country calls and the call goes unheeded.”
The day’s program also included a history of the commemoration, and a reading of the names of the 21 Central Idaho residents who were lost in Vietnam.
The June 24 afternoon program was sponsored by the ICVA, American Legion Grangeville 37 and White Bird 152 posts, VFW Crea-DeHaven Post 3520 Grangeville and Richard Jacobs Post 4902 Cottonwood, and also Grangeville Elks Lodge 1825. Wells Fargo staff helped serve lunch, and the Elks provided $5,500 in grant funds from the national Elks Foundation to assist in the commemoration and for gifts – carbon monoxide detectors and mini fire extinguishers — to each veteran.