Like many 20-year-olds, Vicky Richardson wasn’t as worried about what was happening in Vietnam as she was about her boyfriend getting home safely from the war. But although he landed at an Air Force base without a problem, it wasn’t until years later that Richardson learned that most veterans’ returns home were far less pleasant.
“I just didn’t know how badly they were treated,” Richardson, now in her 60s, said. “They were yelled at, spit on.”
Richardson became determined to give the Vietnam veterans a proper welcome home, and after letters to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama garnered little more than platitudes, she turned to her town of Bayview, Idaho. After asking the Bayview Chamber of Commerce – who Richardson said was excited about the idea – for permission, Richardson began making plans.
Armed with a flatbed to carry veterans unable to walk the half-mile parade route down Main Avenue, and with pizzas donated from Domino’s and Pizza Hut, Richardson said Vietnam veterans from within 100 miles of Bayview are invited to participate in the parade. She said about 25 veterans have confirmed they’ll be attending so far, but she hopes even more will come for a new welcome home.
“We’re a small-town community,” she said. “But we’re going to give them a big-time welcome.”
The 2017 Bayview Daze Parade will start at 11 a.m. on July 1. Veterans interested in participating should email Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 26. Parade lineup will begin at 10 a.m. Drew Gerber/SR