Vietnam Veterans get a warm welcome home in Pigeon Forge

(WBIR - Pigeon Forge) Vietnam veterans are being honored this weekend in Pigeon Forge.

Hundreds of people lined the Parkway, including many Vietnam veterans, for the second Welcome Home Vietnam Parade Saturday morning.

Earl Nelson, a Vietnam War veteran, was overtaken by emotion while watching the parade. "It's a whole new world. When we came back people wouldn't even look at us," said Nelson. "They hated us. Now, if I'm wearing my hat out any time people thank me for my service. It's a brand new ball game. Just a whole new world."

Although it's been nearly 40 years since the Vietnam War ended, the veterans, and many others, were still touched by the celebration.

Kennith Neal, another veteran of the war echoed his comrade's take. "It's heartening to be able to see how much it's turned around and people are honoring us," Neal said.

Shirley Willen of Sevierville said, "I think it's an awesome thing for us to do. They've given so much to us and we need to do something back for them."

Although the parade is called the Welcome Home Vietnam Parade, it honored all veterans.

Raymond Gray, a Korean War veteran, said, "It means a lot to me because I had 28 years of active duty so I like to have the military recognized. Everybody hated the military after the Korean War, but now that they recognize the military. Everybody is a lot happier now."

On Sunday, the veteran will be treated to a remembrance program at the Smoky Mountain Opry.


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