By Tom Waring
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey on Monday said President Donald Trump will soon sign his bill that designates March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Toomey and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly introduced the bill in February. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, and the House of Representatives gave its OK on March 21. Trump has had the bill since March 23, and he is expected to sign it in the coming days.
Toomey explained that, since Richard Nixon in 1974, presidents have annually issued a proclamation recognizing Vietnam War veterans.
The lawmaker wanted a more formal recognition of March 29, 1973, the date that American combat troops withdrew from South Vietnam.
“I’m very, very gratified we were able to get it done,” he said in a conference call with reporters.
The legislation is supported by Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Toomey was joined on the conference call by Harold Redding, of York, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who gave the senator the idea for the legislation.
Also on the call was John Biedrzycki, of McKees Rocks, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and past national commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“This is certainly long, long overdue,” said Biedrzycki, adding that he considers every day to be Veterans Day.
Toomey said Vietnam War veterans deserve respect and gratitude for their service. He hopes that, each March 29, there are public events marking the occasion. He also suggested that teachers incorporate the law into their curriculum that day.
“There are a variety of ways it can be recognized so people can be reminded of the service of our veterans,” he said.
Redding likes the idea of children learning about the role of Americans in the country’s last war using conscripted service.
“I think the veterans can play a big part in that,” he said. ••