WESTFIELD – The Fire Department of Westfield and the Westfield Exempt Volunteer Firemen’s Association will be holding a ceremony to honor the service of Vietnam War Veterans this month.
Lyle Holland, a past chief of the Westfield Fire Department and chairman of the event, says the ceremony has been in the works for three years after being put on hold due to COVID.
“They really got a raw deal with how the war was portrayed. Between the media and the public and everything else. So we wanted to make sure we recognized our Vietnam vets to make sure they knew they were appreciated and that,” says Holland.
Holland says the 50th anniversary of the war is bringing attention to the vets, and how poorly they were treated. Specifically, the use of Agent Orange and its disastrous effects on those who served.
Edward Kneer, President of the Westfield Exempt Volunteer Firemen’s Association and past chief, emphasized the role the veterans played in where the United States is now.
“They fought for our country, it’s what we have now. They got us what we have now and what we wanna keep. You can’t ask for any better than what we have in the states here,” says Kneer.
Kneer hopes the ceremony will allow the veterans to discuss their experience, and how their life has turned out because of it.
The president explained how patriotic the area is, and its dedication to honoring service. The village also has a memorial to its fallen firefighters and police officers. In the past, the groups have also held ceremonies honoring World War II and Korean War Veterans.
“We usually have guest speakers, different politicians and that. We’ll have a color guard here to recognize the fallen veterans that have passed,” says Holland. “We gotta contact our chaplain so he can be here with us. And we have certificates for them and that.”
The Fire Department has partnered with the Vietnam War Commemoration for a number of awards and gifts for the veterans.
All local Vietnam Veterans and their families are welcome at the ceremony, not just those from Westfield. To register for the event, text Holland at (716) 269-4671 with the veterans first and last name, address, phone number, and how many people will be attending by Friday, April 15.
The ceremony will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at the Westfield Fire Department on Clinton Street. Community members who would like to participate are welcome.