Decorated Vietnam veteran returns
for opening ceremonies on Aug. 16
August 08, 2007
LAPEER — Nine years ago when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall visited Imlay City, the local community adopted a "welcome home" theme as a way to express its heartfelt thanks to all who served in Vietnam.
When The Moving Wall comes back to Lapeer County Aug. 16-19 at American Legion Post #16 in Lapeer the occasion will mark another opportunity to welcome home a Vietnam veteran.
On Thursday, Aug. 16, Jerry Newberry, former president of Lapeer County's Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 287, returns to serve as the keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies at 7 p.m.
The decorated Vietnam War veteran was instrumental in bringing The Moving Wall to Lapeer County in 1998, and he continues to serve the needs and interests of America's veterans nationally.
Newberry currently serves as the National Communications Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City. It's a role ideally suited for Newberry's unbridled passion and commitment on behalf of his fellow veterans.
Recently that devotion included traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan to obtain firsthand information about the challenges facing U.S. troops in those war-torn countries.
Not ironically, Newberry was embedded in Iraq with members of the 101st Airborne, the same division he served with in Vietnam.
Taking his commitment to serve America's armed forces a step farther, he regularly shares his experiences and opinions on the VFW's talk radio show, The National Defense.
Newberry describes The National Defense as a "hard-hitting approach to dealing with important issues," with the focus on championing all matters affecting our men and women in the military.
"The National Defense is a very patriotic program, we make no apologies for that fact," says Newberry. "We won't be shy in bringing any issue to the table, and we don't care if politicians can't take the heat."
While he has worked as an aide to Democratic candidates in the past, Newberry stresses that the radio show is "nonpartisan."
"We don't play favorites with any one political party because the VFW's focus is on what's best for our troops."
Politics and opinion aside, Newberry says he is honored to have been asked to speak at Thursday's opening ceremonies.
"The Moving Wall holds a special place in the hearts of those of us who served in Vietnam," says Newberry. "It makes an impact on all who view it.
"I'm deeply touched that after so many years I would be asked to speak," he says. "I still consider Imlay City and Lapeer County my home. In all my travels, it's the one place my mind always goes back to and the place I've truly missed being away from. I'm looking forward to sharing memories with so many of my good friends."
While his experiences in Vietnam reflect a much different time in American history, Newberry believes there is much to be learned from all wars—and through service to one's country.
"All those who serve are part of a larger brotherhood," Newberry says. "For Vietnam veterans, the legacy is stronger today than ever because of the lessons learned. The most important is that you couldn't separate the war from the warrior then anymore than we can today."