Shelton residents to play role in Vietnam Veterans recognition event

Students from Shelton Intermediate School's enrichment program have created replicas of the veterans monuments at the Riverwalk that will be displayed during this year’s state Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Guilford.

Last year, the statewide event took place at the Riverwalk in Shelton and attracted up to 2,000 visitors.

Shelton resident John “Jay” Francino-Quinn, a member of the organizing committee, said the day is both a “celebration” of the welcome home Vietnam Wars had deserved to get as well as “a healing event.”

It also raises money to help homeless veterans.

Public is welcome

The 2013 Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day will be celebrated Sunday, April 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Guilford Fairgrounds. The free event is open to all military veterans, no matter when they served, as well as the general public.

The annual event was established by state law in 2010, making Connecticut the second state in the nation to do so.

Ceremony to a car show

There will be a ceremony with colorguards, speeches and other tributes; car show, live music, retail and food vendors, children’s entertainment and additional activities.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti is listed as one of the speakers as is Secretary of State Denise Merrill, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and other dignitaries.

Learn more at

Last year, Francino-Quinn said, the 26 military members from Connecticut still listed as missing in action in Vietnam were represented by Sea Cadets dressed in uniform during a particularly moving part of the ceremony.

Francino-Quinn served in the U.S. Army from 1979-1987, spending time in South Korea along the buffer zone with North Korea.

How the recognition event began

A Vietnam veteran from California, Jose Ramos, began the push for an annual event to pay tribute to those who served in Vietnam by riding his bicycle from southern California to Washington, D.C. in 2004.

The U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War lasted from the early 1960s to 1975, when the United States pulled out and South Vietnam fell to the communist North Vietnam. More than 58,000 Americans died during the conflict.