By Michael Williams
In an event 50 years in the making, Vietnam veterans will get the welcome home that is long overdue during the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Parade to be held August 23 in Pigeon Forge.
Long time Sevier County resident Louise Mandrell will serve as grand marshal for the event. Mandrell performed at her own theater in Pigeon Forge and is best remembered as part of the Mandrell sisters. Louise Mandrell, along with her sisters, Barbara and Erlene, starred in a weekly variety show during the 80s. The trio toured the nation performing at numerous venues before Louis opened the Louise Mandrell Theater.
The parade begins at 10 on the Parkway and pays homage to the Vietnam veterans. The Vietnam War was the most divisive war in U.S. history since the Civil War. Many Vietnam vets returned home to public scorn and resentment. None were given a ticker tape parade and most returned home where their commanding officers instructed them to keep their service to their country confidential and to avoid public confrontation.
The first Welcome Home Parade was held in 2013 and more than 500 Vietnam veterans came to see the parade and get the welcome home they never received. Following the parade the Relics Show will be held at the Convention Center. For more information visit the website aaa.welcomehomevietnam.com.