“Welcome home” for Hoosier Vietnam veterans on Memorial Day

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — People packed cemeteries across central Indiana for Memorial Day ceremonies Monday.

Flags were placed on soldiers’ graves and taps was played to honor our veterans killed and missing in action.

Memorial Day is a holiday set aside for honoring those who gave their lives fighting for America. At Crown Hill Cemetery though, they were particularly focused on honoring Vietnam War veterans.

Senator Dan Coats spoke at the Crown Hill Cemetery service. He was one of many Vietnam vets there.

All of them finally got the welcome home that most were denied several decades ago.

“I came back to segregation,” said Vietnam veteran Edward McFarland. “Things were bad in the 60s.”

Edward McFarland says his return to Jim Crow laws made the sacrifice of his service sting.

Today, people came to the cemetery to try to make amends for the isolating experience McFarland and other vets had.

“I can’t even put it into words,” said Diana Harder, who went to the Crown Hill service with her family. “The families that are here, left behind and the things that they see that they have to bring home with them, you just, you can’t wrap your brain around it.”

For veteran Fred Bishop, ceremonies like the one he attended at Washington Park East Cemetery, are part of the healing process.

“I lost six good friends in Vietnam and they’re still missing and unaccounted for, so part of that is to remember them,” said Bishop.

Every year, the names of Hoosiers who have died in the line of duty are read aloud at the Crown Hill service. This year, for the first time in years, there were no names to read.

Despite this year’s good news, Bishop wants non-veterans to remember the American men and women still in harm’s way overseas.

Their sacrifice, he says, is one most veterans would give again and again.

“We still have evil in the world,” said Bishop. “We have people who want to take us over, to kill us, to change our way of living, to take away our freedom. So we must defend it all the time. Freedom’s not free.”

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