CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWTI) — A “welcome home,” 50 years later.

To honor the 50th Anniversary of Vietnam War Veterans Day, the Carthage American Legion Bassett-Baxter Post 789 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Dionne-Rumble Post 7227 led a Commemorative Day Recognition Ceremony on March 29.

This welcomed veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, regardless of the location.

A celebratory parade was also held the day prior in the Village of Carthage, which brought forward community members to share their gratitude for local veterans.

However, similar celebrations were missing decades ago when these veterans returned from Vietnam. Many were “greeted” with violence and messages of hate.

This was an experience Doug Babcock, a Vietnam Veteran who was drafted in 1968, has not forgotten.

“You had people throwing tomatoes at you, eggs at you. We were told not to wear our uniforms when we traveled,” Babcock explained.

To make up for these times, other veterans, active-duty soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and civilians gathered in Carthage to give the Vietnam War Veterans the honor they deserve.

During the ceremony, Jane Reape, the Veterans of Foreign War National Auxilary President was the keynote speaker.

Reape addressed all veterans and family members in the room to share her appreciation.

“Because of your dedication,” Reape said. “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

The ceremony included a formal prisoner of war ceremony led by the Carthage High School JROTC, as well as a formal roll call of Vietnam War veterans that were in attendance or represented by family.

Over 200 veterans were recognized at the 50th-anniversary ceremony.

“Our intent is to fill this church with veterans, their families, their descendants,” American Legion Carthage Basset-Baxter Post 789 Commander Dr. Janice Gravely told the crowd. “Just to show you in any way that we can, that we welcome you home.”

Because even if the ceremony was 50 years late, it might not be too late.

“A lot of [veterans] will never see anything, they’re long gone,” Babcock expressed. “But it’s nice to see somebody take the initiative though, to get something started. I may be walking away today with a little bit better feelings than I had a couple of days ago.

Vietnam War Veterans Day was first declared a national holiday in 2017 after the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act was signed into law.