TVVA bids farewell with annual Veterans Name Reading Ceremony

TVVA bids farewell with annual Veterans Name Reading Ceremony
May 30
00:59 2019

For the past 30 years, the Triad Vietnam Veterans Association (TVVA) has celebrated Memorial Day by reading the names of the 499 military vets from Winston-Salem and Forsyth County who paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country and who are honored at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum.

And on Monday the organization held the ceremony for the last time. TVVA is planning to disband this year. 

Founded in 1978, the TVVA was formed to give a voice to Vietnam veterans who didn’t feel welcomed after returning home from combat.

Since its inception, TVVA has helped veterans across the Triad in need and raised more than $40,000 for several charitable organizations in the area, including the Ronald McDonald House. TVVA also sponsors the city’s annual Veterans Day Parade held downtown.

After serving the community for three decades and honoring our local fallen heroes since 1981, 2019 will be the organization’s last ceremony. With only five members, President Richard Speas said they felt it was time to call it quits. He said although TVVA is disbanding, the friendships and bonds they’ve built over the years will live on forever. 

Before reading the names of the veterans, current TVVA members talked about how the organization helped them cope when they returned home. Army Veteran Len Larson said at a place in time where he felt no one understood him, TVVA gave him someone to talk to. 

“I joined shortly after returning home from the war and it gave me somebody I could talk to. Someone who has never been in the service doesn’t understand the camaraderie between us guys who served, especially during war time,” Larson said. 

U.S. Navy and Army Reserve Veteran Joe Zimmerman said he was lucky enough to find the Triad Vietnam Veterans Association in the late 1980s and the members have been like a part of his family every since.

“This organization has meant a lot to me and also my wife. Just a great group of people,” he said.

Mayor Allen Joines was also in attendance during the TVVA farewell ceremony on Memorial Day. Joines, who has attended the name reading ceremony every year since he was sworn in as mayor in 2001, said it was sad to see TVVA go. He said, “It’s sad to see an end of an era. For 30 years the Triad Vietnam Veterans Association has carried out this event. 

“What a great service this organization has provided for our community, to our veterans and those who have died who we honor here today. To Walter Emory, Richard Speas and all the members of the Triad Vietnam Veterans Association, I salute you.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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