Stroy by Emily Longnecker
CARMEL, Ind., } WTHR - More than 40 years ago, the men who fought in the Vietnam War came home to a country where not everyone was happy to see them.
"When I came through the airports, they spit on me and called me all kinds of names and everything else," said Vietnam veteran Richard Leirer.
Years later, the country is saying thank-you to its Vietnam veterans with National Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.
"I think it's good and it's long overdue," said veteran Ernest McClendon, who served in Vietnam in the United States Air Force from 1968-69.
Dozens of Vietnam veterans like McClendon gathered at the American Legion in Carmel where they received thanks and appreciation, decades after their service.
"For 40 years, we didn't get welcomed and they didn't say thank you or nothing, so it's great that we can do it now, it may have taken 40 years, but we are doing it now," Leirer added.
Among the guests, Medal of Honor Recipient and Vietnam veteran Sammy Davis.
"To make a day that is dedicated to the Vietnam veterans is excellent," said Davis.
Also, among the veterans were surviving members of a National Guard Unit from Indiana, who served together in Vietnam, D Company, Airborne Rangers, 151st Infantry.
"It's about time," said William "Pappy" Hayes, who was part of the unit.
The recognition of the more than seven million Vietnam veterans across the country comes at a time when the Library of Congress Veterans History Project is collecting and archiving the stories of Vietnam veterans across the country.
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