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Two friends go above and beyond to honor Vietnam veterans

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - Fifty years ago, the United States entered the Vietnam War and many people say the veterans who fought in that war did not get the “welcome home” they deserved. Now, one local woman and her friend want to make that right.

In March of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched Operation Rolling Thunder, catapulting the U.S. into the Vietnam war.

“My dad served during the Vietnam Era,” Mandy Anderson said. “One of the things that he taught us as children was to respect and honor your veterans, especially the Vietnam veterans because they weren’t treated well when they came home.”

Anderson’s soft spot for Vietnam veterans led to Monday’s event.

“Today, we are doing a welcome home event for Vietnam veterans,” Anderson said.

The events took place at two local sites, Le Bistreaux in Alexandria and As the Crow Flies in Pineville. Both of the restaurants are veteran-owned.

“Quite an honor actually,” Jeffrey Raia, the owner of As the Crow Flies, said. “Very much an honor that they would choose us out of all the local businesses.”

While Raia considers it an honor, he and Anderson both have something in common when it comes to the Vietnam War.

“My father was a veteran of the Vietnam War,” Raia said.

Both of their fathers provided Anderson and Raia with common ground in their friendship. Now, they want the rest of the nation to value Vietnam veterans the same way they do.

“It’s almost as if this generation of war veterans were forgotten,” Raia said. “We just want to let them know they are not forgotten, and we want to say welcome home.”

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