PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Nation-wide, communities are participating in a celebration recognizing the 50 year anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and Tuesday, Bay County Commissioners joined that celebration.
More than 100 Vietnam-era veterans were honored for their service, which is something that didn't come so easy decades ago when they returned home from the war.
"I tell you, when I walked in the room today, my heart just melted and I still want to get emotional about it," said Guy Tunnell, Bay County Commissioner.
It was an emotional morning for everyone as 136 Vietnam Veterans wrapped around the room, waiting to be recognized.
The ceremony hits close to home for Commissioner Guy Tunnell who helped plan the event.
"I can remember being a young lad about 12 years old when my dad shipped out for his first deployment to Vietnam," said Tunnell.
Tunnell says it was a joy to honor these veterans for their service and sacrifice.
"And I remember as well as our veterans were coming back from that conflict and how emotional that was and how really devastating it was for them because of the way they were received by a certain segment of our country," said Tunnell.
So now, 50 years later, the county is giving these veterans the homecoming they deserve.
"I think our country has come a long way in trying to rectify the way that was handled back then and I think now we do a much better job of recognizing and appreciating the veterans and their service to our country and the world, really," said Tunnell.
In addition to being recognized by the commission, the veterans were given a commemorative lapel pin to show appreciation for their service.
It's only been 41 years since the Vietnam War ended, but the celebration is part of a 2012 presidential proclamation that extends a 13 year commemoration until the real 50th anniversary in 2025.
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