Just in time for Veterans Day, the Newton County Historical Society is hosting an event Saturday, Nov. 9 designed for Vietnam War veterans.
The event, which kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Neosho Civic, will give Vietnam veterans who wish to do so, a chance to share their stories and experiences from the war with fellow veterans, as well as the general public.
Wes Franklin, historical society member and the event’s organizer, said the historical society held two similar events in recent years, one for Korean War veterans, and one for veterans of World War II, which drew around 70 attendees.
Franklin said the intention had been to follow up with an event for Vietnam War veterans, and though there were a few years since the last veterans’ sharing event, that promise hadn’t been forgotten.
Now, Franklin said, it’s the Vietnam veterans’ turn.
“We’re putting it on for them,” Franklin said. “This is the Vietnam War veterans time.”
While the official event kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Civic, with Rep. Bill Reiboldt opening the gathering as the guest speaker, Franklin said the day doesn’t necessarily have an itinerary beyond that.
There is no ending time set for the event, and the Vietnam veterans are allowed to speak for as long as they would like.
“This is their event,” Franklin said. “I’ve never put a time limit on the time that the veterans had to speak, some speak for five minutes or less, some speak for 10 minutes, I always just leave it up to them.”
Those who wish to speak are asked to contact Franklin beforehand, however, those attending the event who have not signed up and decide that day they would like to share their story are also allowed to do so.
So far, Franklin said four veterans have said they plan to speak at the public event.
“We’ll allow the Vietnam War veterans the opportunity to talk about some of their experiences during the Vietnam War and maybe a little bit about how they felt about it,” Franklin said. “Really, it’s an open mic once they get up there, they can really talk about whatever they want to.”
Franklin said the veterans are welcome to contact him or attend the event if they wish to speak, and said he likely will not seek them out, as it’s up to the veterans if they’re comfortable sharing their experiences.
“A lot of Vietnam War veterans especially, they just don’t open up that much about their experience during the Vietnam war because it was such a different conflict,” Franklin said. “If you want to speak, this is your chance. Give me a call.”
Page 2 of 2 - Franklin encouraged even those who aren’t sure yet if they would like to speak at the event to attend, and they can decide there.
He said those who signed up beforehand will speak first, and then the microphone will be open to any Vietnam War veterans in attendance.
For more information or to sign up to speak at the event, contact Franklin at 417-658-8443.