Fifty years on from the tumultuous, transformational experiences of 1968, Auburn High School is organizing a ceremony to honor veterans of the Vietnam War.

On March 29, in conjunction with National Vietnam Veterans Day, Auburn High School will host the East Alabama Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony on its campus, in the performing arts building, beginning at 6 p.m.

The ceremony will offer an opportunity for reflection, remembrance and celebration, in addition to providing a chance to right the bitter or dismissive reactions so many veterans experienced upon returning to the United States after their tours of duty, said AHS history teacher Blake Busbin. 

“This ceremony allows the greater East Alabama region to demonstrate our gratitude for the devotion and sacrifice of those who served during this period,” Busbin said. “The Vietnam War was one of the most consequential events of the 20th century for America, yet we have not taken the time to honor our veterans who accepted the call for duty regardless of the circumstances of the time or conflict.”

Medal of Honor recipients retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, an Opelika resident, and retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James Livingston, an Auburn University graduate, will share their reflections on service in the Vietnam War.

Joe Galloway, a Vietnam War correspondent and co-author of "We Were Soldiers Once…and Young," will deliver the keynote address. 

In partnership with the Twin Cities Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, participating Vietnam and Vietnam period veterans who have not already been so recognized will be presented with the official 50th anniversary commemoration lapel pin provided by the Department of Defense.

The AHS choir will perform, and Vietnam-era military vehicles will be on display. A reception with light refreshments will follow.

Vietnam and Vietnam-period veterans and their families are invited to attend this special event. Gold Star families are also encouraged to participate in memory of their fallen family members.

For more information or to RSVP, please email Busbin at wbbusbin@auburnschools.org or call Auburn High School at 887-2120.

Since 2014, more than 500 students of Busbin's history classes have participated in the AHS Veterans Project, effort to honor veterans through preserving their stories for the Library of Congress. Since then, 274 oral histories, primarily those of Vietnam veterans, have been recorded.

These efforts been recognized by the National Council for the Social Studies, Alabama Public Television (APTV), and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund as a model program for conducting veteran oral histories.

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