In my 27-plus years as a columnist for the Times I've learned many things. One is that a lot of people don't read my columns. And of those who do, not many people remember a column very long.
That is why beginning a few years ago when I care for readers to know about something, I write more than one column about it. We are now at Veterans Salute (VS) #16 column #2. There will be a column #3 next month, just far enough away for readers to have forgotten columns #1 and #2.
VS column #1 was published Aug. 22, and I have yet to find a single person in Leavenworth who read, or remembered, it. Get out your calendar now and mark an important date for October. On Oct. 20, a Saturday, Veterans Salute # 16 will be held at the Mid-Continent Public Library Smithville, Mo., branch.
It is a day the librarians from the 30-library system work hard toward for several months to honor area veterans. That is veterans from all wars, all services, all anything you can think of. Through VFW and American Legion posts in western Missouri and eastern Kansas the word hopefully is spread and veterans know they are invited and will be welcomed.
The fourth-year librarian in charge, Amy Fisher, a research librarian at the library headquarters in Independence, Mo., chose the Vietnam War as the theme of this year's Salute. She tries to tie the theme to the anniversary of an event in a 20th century war.
In 1962 the U.S. Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MAC-V) was established in Saigon to begin the buildup of U.S. forces in South Vietnam. Since this is the 50th year of MAC-V's establishment, the Vietnam War was chosen as the theme. But veterans from all wars are invited and welcome to attend.
The last three Salutes have been at the Platte City branch, about eight miles closer to Leavenworth than Smithville, but the Smithville library is the newest and largest in the system, and folks at headquarters wanted to show it off.
The day-long event begins at 9:30 a.m. with a few speeches and music by the award-winning American Legion Band from Kansas City. Inside the library will be more than 50 tables with historical displays, many featuring items from the Vietnam War.
Outside will be vintage vehicles that are Vietnam War vintage, although for most I suspect proof that they were used in Vietnam is not available. A Huey helicopter that did fly in Vietnam is supposed to be there on a flatbed truck, since it does not fly anymore.
At the final coordination meeting last week the U.S. WW II re-enactors who have been at several Salutes before cancelled, but the committee is working hard to get some WW II German re-enactors and a few wearing U.S. and North Vietnamese uniforms.
Page 2 of 2 - The displays inside and outside will be there all day, so it is not mandatory that everyone be there at 9:30. A veterans panel of ten Vietnam vets will begin at 10:30 and run for an hour. Several panel members are from this area, so it would be interesting to be there for that.
As I mentioned in VS column #1, there is a group of former South Vietnamese military personnel in the Kansas City area, and its members have all been invited to attend and wear their colorful camouflaged uniforms and berets.
They won't re-enact or speak, but will walk around for "photo ops" and for the public to meet. I'm not aware of a single former South Vietnamese military member living in this area, so it is hard to meet one. Hopefully a bunch of them will be in Smithville Oct. 20.
As stated in VS column #1, now you know the date, time, and place, so anyone reading this is encouraged to mark his or her calendar now. Call 816-532-0116 for more information.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.