40 years later, a different homecoming for Vietnam veterans

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Hundreds of Vietnam veterans from all of the country visited the National Infantry Museum this weekend for a welcome home ceremony.

Organizers hoped to give the vets the kind of greeting they never received 40 years ago.

"I started breaking down as we were marching across the field after 35, 37 years we finally got what we deserved," Butch Hemingway said.

It was such a powerful welcome, it was enough to make a grown man cry

The scene today was very different from when soldiers were welcomed home from Vietnam in the 1960's and 1970's.

"You know you think a country don't want you. I can honestly say that they threw eggs and tomatoes and everything at us and then to come and see people really appreciate what you did is really good," Tommy Cox said.

Cox, a Vietnam Vet, said he still remembers the hatred he and his soldiers faced upon arriving back in America.

"It was really a shock and when we got off the buses in California they had rat wire over the windows they actually stopped it we thought what's this for? and when we opened the doors here they came," Cox said.

It was a day to give the proper welcoming to our soldiers, but it was also a day to honor our fathers and grandfathers who fought for our country...and those who lost their lives.

"I know they'd enjoyed it. I called all of their names standing out here and I wished that...I wished they could have been here," Cox said.

The outpour of love was overwhelming.

"Well it was one of those things you could say it hit the heart.  Today was wonderful. It was a great tribute to all those who served and who lost their lives to be there," Dale Ruby said.