In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, the Ripley County Veterans Memorial Committee and the Vietnam Veterans Tribute Committee are honoring Ripley County Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans, and all veterans with two major events this month.
A Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans Tribute is planned for Saturday, July 21. The event will feature Sammy L. Davis, U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam Veteran as the keynote speaker.
Norris Kearns, past chaplain of the Department of the American Legion and a Vietnam Veteran, will also be a part of the tribute, as will representatives from all of Ripley County's Veterans Service Organizations, along with the Patriot Guard and Vietnam Veterans of Southeast Indiana.
A ceremony will be conducted for Vietnam Veterans killed or missing in action and their families. All veterans who served in the Vietnam War or during the Vietnam Era and who lived in Ripley County during the Vietnam War or who currently reside in Ripley County, will be honored at the event. All veterans who have served in peace time or in war and who are in attendance will also be recognized.
The Tribute, which will be held at South Ripley High School Gym, at 1589 S. Benham Road in Versailles will begin at 1 p.m. Parking will be at the rear of the high school and entry will be by Door 10.
Escorts will be present to help those in need of assistance from the parking lot to the gym. All veterans, their families and friends and the people of Southeast Indiana are invited to attend this first ever Ripley County Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans Tribute to give a long, overdue thank you to our veterans for their service to our country.
The second event will be the display of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, "Cost of Freedom Tribute" featuring an 80% replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. Panels also pay tribute to all veterans, 911 victims, firefighters and the police forces. The "Cost of Freedom Tribute" will be escorted to Versailles by the Ripley County Sheriff, Indiana State Police, Ripley County's police and fire departments, the Indiana Patriot Guard, the American Legion Riders, War on Terrrorism families and citizens of Ripley County and Southeast Indiana.
The escort will assemble at the parking lot of the Batesville VFW Post 3183, located at 132 E. Boehringer Street, Batesville on Wednesday, July 18. Staging time is 4 p.m. and the escort will depart at 5 p.m. and travel through the communities of Batesville, Morris, Sunman, Milan, Osgood and Versailles, arriving at its destination at the Southeastern Career Center, 901 W U.S. 50, Versailles. Arrival time is projected to be 6:30 p.m.
Following an escort welcome, an escort reception will be held at the Versailles American Legion Post 173, 119 S. Washington Street, Versailles. Anyone interested in being a part of the escort or the closing Ride of Honor are asked to contact Tim Kieffer, Indiana Patriot Guard Ride Captain at 812-212-1297.
The "Cost of Freedom Tribute" will be open and free to the public beginning on Thursday, July 19 following the opening ceremony at noon and will close on Sunday, July 22 following the Ride of Honor and closing ceremony at 1 p.m.
The "Cost of Freedom Tribute" will be available for public viewing, 24 hours a day from opening through closing. Computer assistance will be available to locate names on the wall and materials will be available for rubbings of names engraved on the tribute.
Programs will be held each evening at 7 p.m. On Thursday evening, July 19 veterans who served during World War II and Korea will be honored at a short program.
On Friday evening, July 20 War on Terrorism Gold Star Mothers and 911 victims' families will be honored along with police forces and firefighters.
On Saturday, July 21 the major event to honor Vietnam Veterans will be held at South Ripley High School Gym at 1 p.m. A wreath will be presented at the "Cost of Freedom Tribute" site at 7 p.m. in honor of Vietnam Veterans.
Both events are made possible by grants awarded by the Rising Sun Community Foundation, Inc., the Ripley County Community Foundation, Inc., a major donation from the Cpl. John C. Bishop Memorial Fund, and multiple contributions from Veterans Service Organizations, local commissioners, tourism bureau, cities, businesses and citizens of Ripley County and Southeast Indiana.
For more information on the events or to volunteer or make a donation, please contact C. T. "Sugo" Castner, chairman, at 812-689-7110 or 812-756-0828 at firstname.lastname@example.org, at www.ripleycounty.com/veteranservices/vietnamtribute.htm, or find us on Facebook at Vietnam Veterans Tribute Committee.
The Vietnam Veterans Tribute Committee is composed of representatives of all of Ripley County's Veterans Service Organizations.
They invite all to come to the events and to take the time, after 50 years, to thank our Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans and to pay tribute to all Veterans and to those who have served our country and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the true cost of freedom.