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(Sparks, NV 25MAR23) The first of what is hoped to be many veterans related events held at the newly opened Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza, (NVMP) was put on by Vietnam Veterans of America – Sierra Nevada Chapter 989, (VVA 989).  Several hundred veterans, family members and supporters of veterans enjoyed an uplifting tribute to Vietnam Veterans in the concluding years (Memorial Day 2012 through Veterans Day 2025) of the 50th Year Commemorative recognition of the Vietnam War.  Those who had “gone before” and those that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan were also honored as were all veterans.  Gold Star Families were also honored for their losses over the years.

The program opened with the posting of “Colors” by our friends, from Horsmanship for Heroes, helping veterans and first responders with equine therapy for PTSD.  This was followed by our very own Kimberley Ahrens Dixon singing the National Anthem and later closing the program with God Bless America.  As always, the crowd was not disappointed.

Following the National Anthem our Vice President, Col. Susan Malone, USMC, (ret.) provided a beautify delivered Invocation which set the stage for a Wreath Laying Ceremony by the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR). 

Three wreaths were placed in front of the podium with long time State PGR Road Captain and VVA 989er, Will Drummond, placing the first for Vietnam Veterans.  The PGR brought the second wreath to the front of the podium and Lt. Governor Stavros Anthony “placed it” on behalf of ALL veterans.  The third and final wreath was brought to the front of the podium and placed by Mr. Steven Ward.  Mr. Ward is a 4th generation Marine and Gold Star Father as his son, 5th generation Marine, Eric L. Ward passed in Afghanistan.

Sparks City Councilman and President/CEO/and Board Chair of the NVMP Kristopher Dahir presented a large group of VIPs including elected officials and various department leaders and the Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station, Fallon, CAPT Shane Tanner and the Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickle Meadows, Colonel Ronald Storer.

U.S. Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, presented United States Senate Certificates of Commendation to both Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza and Vietnam Veterans of America – Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 in recognition of the day’s events.

Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson presented the Sparks City Proclamation and read only, “Now, Therefore, I, Ed Lawson, Mayor of the City of Sparks, Nevada, do hereby proclaim March 29th, 2023, as: “NATIONAL VIETNAM VETERANS DAY” This was well received by the crowd with chuckles and a light round of applause.

Director Fred Wagar, Nevada Department of Veterans Services was then introduced, and he then introduced Nevada’s Lt. Governor, Stavros Anthony for his remarks and the reading of Governor Joe Lombardo’s Proclamation.  Remarks and proclamation read, Lt. Governor was thanked for his support of Nevada veterans and presented with a NVMP jacket and a “Battle Born” wall hanging with the coins of both NVMP and VVA 989 affixed to it.

VVA 989’s own, Andy Le Peilbet, made remarks and read the poem, Those Honored Dead and then Buglers from The Nevada Veterans Coalition played echoing Taps as appropriate honors were rendered.

The Reverend Greg Watson of the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home (NNSVH) gave a wonderful Benediction recounting among other blessings and remembrances the crew of the CARE Flight which recently crashed with the loss of all Souls on board.

Next came recognition of all the people who made the day possible, the volunteers!  These are the people who do/did a remarkable job of setting the stage for all that occurred during the day, from press liaison, publications, signage, VIP and public seating, color guard activities, wreath laying, Outreach Tables, parking, lunch for the volunteers, photography, Devil Pup assistance, printing, VIP escorts, cleaning, sound system, etc.  All were recognized by a grateful crowd.

The day ended with a beautiful rendition of God Bless America by Kimberly Ahrens Dixon and the invitation to spend some time reflecting at the NVMP.    

Attendees were reminded that the volunteers did it all to make this 2023 version of the Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day the BEST on yet, and they did it for the 58,318 on the Wall in DC, and the many thousands who have since died due to Agent Orange, PTSD and Suicide and those 7,000 lost over the last 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thank you for your participation in the event and

we hope to see you again next year.

Semper Paratus,

J. R. Stafford, President

Vietnam Veterans of America – Sierra Nevada Chapter 989