March 29 is Vietnam Veterans Day, honoring the nearly three million people who served and sacrificed in the Vietnam War. The day marks 48 years since the last American troops left Vietnam in 1973. Here in North Dakota, the family of one of those veterans was recognized with Gold Star pins.
Kathy Rogers remembers her older brother Dennis like it was yesterday.
“He was virtually a mentor to me because he was so intelligent. He was in the debate team, he loved cars and music, just being with people. Always a smile on his face, always willing to help somebody,” Rogers said.
Her brother, Corporal Dennis Manson was killed in the Vietnam War when he was just 18 years old.
“He just graduated when he was 17, went in when he was 18, in fact, it was a week before he got killed in Vietnam on June 6 he sent us a letter saying he’s getting shipped out to Hawaii and he would be home soon, and that was the last message we heard from him,” Rogers said.
Now nearly 52 years later, Manson’s family members were honored today with a certificate and Gold Star pins in recognition of their brother Dennis’s sacrifice.
“This is so special to me. Like I said, he’s pretty much my hero. I’m just really overwhelmed. I’m glad Mr. Marcellais and everything is from our home town and represented,” Rogers said.
Sen. Richard Marcellais, who served in Vietnam, helped present the award honoring Manson, who was also from Belcourt. Marcellais acknowledged the service of those in the military.
“I want to wish them a welcome home, which they never received. Thank you. God bless America,” Marcellais said.
Gov. Doug Burgum spoke at today’s ceremony, recognizing the more than 15,000 North Dakotans who served in the war from 1961 to 1975.
“We live in freedom and we live in peace but it’s because of the heroic actions and the incredible sacrifices of the brave men and women like those we’re going to honor today,” Gov. Burgum said.
This year was the 12th year Vietnam Veterans day was celebrated in North Dakota. According to the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, 198 North Dakotans lost their lives in Vietnam.