YAKIMA, Wash.--March 30th marks Washington State's first ever "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day." A measure sponsored by Yakima's very own Representative Norm Johnson.
"Yakama Warriors Association came to me and informed me that nobody had ever thanked the Vietnam Veterans and welcomed them home," said Rep. Johnson.
"It's a good thing that they're welcoming them home," said Nicole Rodriguez. "I think it should be done everywhere all through the United States. I've got my older relatives that were in Vietnam and stuff so it's nice that they're appreciated. Better late than never."
More than 1,100 service members from Washington died in the Vietnam War. A loss that's deeply felt in the Yakima Valley.
"Toppenish had the highest per capita number of young men killed in Vietnam than any other city in the United States," said Rep. Johnson.
Local veterans said their sacrifice went unappreciated when they returned home. In fact, they weren't given very much respect at all.
"They were not treated well when they returned home," said Rep. Johnson. "They were spat on, they were called baby killers, they had things thrown at them."
Some veterans said this recognition doesn't make up for the fact that service men and women are losing their benefits every day.
"You made promises, keep them," said Mike Benoit, a veteran. "They defended you now you take care of them. That's what the bottom line is."
Rep. Johnson asks that when March 30th rolls around, people raise their flags high and remember the young men and women who fought in Vietnam, putting their lives on the line for our freedom.