CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A few dozen Vietnam Veterans gathered around the Freedom Bell on the North Side of the State Capitol Friday to mark Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day.

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts, a Vietnam Vet himself, served as the keynote speaker.

“You should’ve been thanked the day you came home and you should’ve been thanked every day you’ve been home, but today I want to say to you this is a nation that is proud of our Vietnam Veterans,” Roberts told the vets.

Congress designated March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. It passed unanimously in 2017.

Other speakers like Shirley White, who serves as the president of West Virginia Gold Star Mothers, said she’s proud of the sacrifices each veteran has made.

“We’re proud of your love of country, for your love of family, for all the reasons that inspired you to fight for our country,” she said. “This day puts a face, a person to the war that ensured our freedom.”

Roberts said Vets should be thanked for fighting for our freedom.

“America is a governement of the people, by the people and for the people. The reason that’s true, but somebody has to make it true and that’s been the Veterans of the United States of America,” he said.

Veterans’ bravery should not go unnoticed, he added.

“When you were called upon, you answered that call. You stood up, not only for the people in West Virginia, but you are patriots. You are patriotic. You defended this country,” Roberts said.

More than 36,000 West Virginians served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

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