Vietnam Vet shares true meaning of Memorial Day


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – For many, Memorial Weekend is a much needed day off from work, maybe squeeze in some family time with a picnic or camping trip.

Sometimes we can forget the true meaning of the holiday.

A local group of men and women want to make sure that meaning isn’t lost.

Clifford Stephens’ places a flag on a fallen soldiers grave, it hits close to home.

Nearly fifty-two years ago he was serving in the Navy during one of history’s most complicated times, the Vietnam War.

“Seeing the piece of the world mistreated and for us to try to correct that, and it was difficult, we were unable to get it accomplished because of politics,” said Stephens.

He served from 1962-1966, and during that time he often questioned if he would make it back home alive.

“But God was with me so I was able to come home,” said Stephens.

Like many Vietnam vets he was not welcomed with open arms.

“I didn’t appreciate coming home and getting spit on for trying to do what we do in order for us to have the freedom that we have.”

Today Stephens notices a switch in attitude.

The flag placed in front of the graves is now a symbol of appreciation for veterans, even those who didn’t get the recognition they deserved.

“It really bothers me when hear America say hey I got the weekend off. It’s about honoring those that served, getting out here and being active, and remembering the fallen,” said Garth Norris, with the Vet to Vet Program at the Will Center.

They hope the community will reflect on the sacrifices made and remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“Memorial Day to me means the opportunity to pay my respects to those friends and neighbors that I’ve lost, and to those that paid the ultimate price,” said Stephens.

Twelve volunteers placed more than 1,000 flags on the graves at Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute.

The annual tradition is known as “Decoration Day,” and it dates back to the early 1800’s.

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