RIVIERA, Texas — A Kleberg County commissioner wanted to honor the Vietnam War veterans in his community on Vietnam Veterans Day.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Martinez, a Vietnam vet himself, did so by organizing an event at the Baffin Bay Seawind Resort on Tuesday.
“I thought it was just appropriate to honor them and to thank them for their service and their sacrifice," he said.
A color guard presented the American flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance, and children sang the national anthem.
Guest speakers made their speeches, and then the veterans received commemorative pins.
Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid, a veteran of 21 years in the Navy, pinned each veteran one-by one.
“My war wasn’t Vietnam," he said. "My war was in Afghanistan. So I looked up to these guys as mentors my whole life. I can’t say enough about these Vietnam veterans."
Dozens of veterans attended the event along with some of their friends and family.
"Back in the day, they did not get anything like this when they came home," Sylvia Martinez said about her Vietnam veteran friends. "So we’re trying to make up for it now."
March 29 was chosen for Vietnam Veterans Day, because it was on this day in 1973 that the last American combat troops left the southeast Asian country.
Some veterans were treated poorly when they returned, but Martinez hopes Tuesday's event inspires people to embrace veterans.
“If you ever see them say thank you for their service," he said. "Any veteran — say thank you and bless them.”