Local News

Vets group thanks kids for welcome home cards

SEBRING Luegenger Moses’ first-grade class at the Sebring Boys & Girls Club spent one hour one afternoon drawing cards for Vietnam War veterans who never received a proper welcome back home more than 40 years ago. Some of these cards had blue skies, others a family reunited, still others renditions of machine guns: kids’ interpretations of what the war and its aftermath meant for the veterans. Tuesday, Larry Roberts thanked the kids and club officials for the 100 or so cards the kids penned for the AMVETS Post 21’s “A Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” March 30. This annual event, which made its debut this year, was meant to honor Vietnam-era veterans who were vilified in those tumultuous political times when they returned home 40 years ago.
“You made their day,” Roberts, who is with Post 21, told the kids while handing a certificate of appreciation to branch manager Ernest Sapp Jr. “They felt like they were finally home and welcome. It’s been 40 years.” More than 200 people attended the March celebration, which was complete with welcome-home posters, food and lots of hugs. About 75 of them were Vietnam veterans, some of who had been nervous about attending because of possible flashback memories but came to participate. World War II veterans served food to their comrades from the Vietnam War, Roberts said. Linda Casali, who is with the AMVETS ladies auxiliary, came up with the idea while reading about it. Her husband served in Vietnam. She said she was “blown away” and “humbled” by the turnout and the event’s success. While the Boys & Girls Club kids made cards, students from the Avon Park Youth Academy made welcome-home posters. One of the kids had a father who had served in the war and he asked him what to write for the poster. “Some of them (the posters) were really heartfelt,” Casali said.