Georgia honors Vietnam veterans in 50th anniversary commemoration ceremony

ATLANTA. (Sept. 19, 2013) ( l to r) Governor Nathan Deal and Army LTG (Ret.) Claude M. Kicklighter, Director, Office of Commemorations, U.S. Department of Defense stand for the pledge of allegiance  during the Governor of Georgia’s 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War ceremony at the State Capitol. Governor Nathan Deal attended the ceremony to pay tribute and foster the partnership between the State of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Defense to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Governor Deal issued a proclamation recognizing the partnership in the North Wing of the State Capitol and asked Georgians to participate in recognizing the 50th anniversary by thanking veterans who fought or died in the war as part of the State's POW/MIA Day recognition events. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David P. Coleman/Released)
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adam Stapleton

ATLANTA – Members of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration program gathered in the state capitol building to accept Gov. Nathan Deal’s proclamation in honor of the 50th Vietnam War Commemoration, Sept. 19.

Following a speech highlighting and thanking the dedication of several attendees in their mission to honor and remember the sacrifices of veterans of the Vietnam War, Deal proclaimed Sept. 19, 2013, through Nov. 11, 2025, as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War in Georgia.

The proclamation marks the state’s official partnership with the 50th Anniversary Commemoration, a Department of Defense initiative started in 2008.

“Congress passed the law that authorized the DoD to organize and support events like this across this great land,” said 50th Vietnam War Commemoration Director U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Claude M. Kicklighter, retired, “to assist a grateful nation in thanking and honoring our Vietnam veterans and their families.” 

Kicklighter went on to express the importance of honoring the veterans of a conflict that have, in the past, received a less-than-warm welcome home. 

“By becoming a commemorative partner, Governor Deal and this great state joins the nation in turning back the pages of history and righting a wrong that should not have occurred 50 years ago,” said the Georgia native, who is but one of the estimated 245,000 Georgians who served in the historically controversial war.

Other speakers at the commemoration ceremony included Pete Wheeler, Georgia Department of Veterans Service Commissioner and Joanne Shirley, Vice chairman of the National League of Families of the POW/MIA, who spoke on behalf of the families of those who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.

“Just to be able to unite with people who understand the same thing that you’re going through is huge,” said Shirley, whose older brother, U.S. Air Force Maj. Bobby Jones, has been missing in action since 1972. “It’s not just about Bobby, it’s about everybody who has a loved one that’s missing, it’s about never forgetting.”

The ceremony culminated with Kicklighter presenting the Governor with a commemorative partner flag and certificate to officiate the partnership.

The State of Georgia is just one of an ever-growing list of partners in The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration initiative. For more information on the commemoration program, upcoming activities or how to become a partner, visit the official website at

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