VIETNAM: VALOR AND BROTHERHOOD
It is 50 years since the height of the Vietnam War and for many of its veterans the painful memories from their service remain fresh. They answered our nation’s call to duty from all across the United States, from varied backgrounds and for different reasons, but they were brothers, battle brothers, and they fought for each other and with the same goals – to serve their country and stay alive and get back home to their families.
“We travel from far and near. We see each other. We all embrace and say ‘Welcome home, brother.’ That’s how deep the bond is. It transcends race. It transcends economic status. When we’re here, we’re all one.”
– Ernest “Pete” Peterson
ERNEST “PETE” PETERSON & BRAD KENNEDY STORY
When Vietnam veterans finally returned home, they didn’t get the reception that veterans of previous wars received. Instead of parades, veterans were met with derision. Because of this, Vietnam veterans banded together, forming support groups and communities that would forever leave them brothers.
Ernest “Pete” Peterson and Brad Kennedy’s friendship began on the 23-day boat trip to Vietnam while serving together in the 11th U.S. Cavalry. Pete’s family had served in the military since the Civil War and both Pete and his brother served in Vietnam. Service was expected. Brad volunteered to go to Vietnam because he felt it was his duty to serve alongside other Americans. Though they came from different backgrounds, they found common ground in Vietnam. Many years later, Pete and Brad found themselves again side-by-side, this time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, where they reunite each Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They are there to be with those who understand and to honor their buddies.
The 2019 National Memorial Day Concert shared the story of Vietnam combat veterans.