FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2009
AUSTIN, TX — On Thursday, May 7, the Texas Senate joined Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. in honoring Vietnam War Veterans who never received a proper welcome when they returned home.
Sen. Lucio presented Senate Resolution 863 that recognizes the Texas Vietnam Memorial Highway Motorcycle Run held annually in March to pay tribute to Vietnam Veterans and their return home.
"Our Texas Vietnam Veterans deserve respect for their service, and I am pleased to honor their service and give them a true hero's welcome home!" said Sen. Lucio. "They laid their lives on the line just as every American soldier in war has."
Also known as the Welcome Home Run, the event was established in 2003 to give Texas Vietnam War veterans the appropriate welcome they deserved when they returned many years ago but in most cases, never received.
Mr. Daniel D. Pineda of Mercedes, a combat veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Vietnam in 1969, stated, "When I returned stateside, I recall that our military flight plane was forced to divert from its intended airport in California to Washington state due to anti-war protests at the original site. Once back home in the Valley, for the most part, I, like most other Vietnam veterans, was shunned by the general public. There were no expressions of 'welcome home soldier' or anything of the sort."
He explained that the Texas Vietnam Memorial Highway Motorcycle Run "serves to help the Vietnam veterans who were never welcomed home decades ago, but rather, if you would, just swept under the rug. As we ride from town to town in Texas along U.S. Highway 83, we see people, complete strangers, lined up cheering, waving and shouting 'welcome home.' It's the patriotic display of our nation's people honoring its forgotten veterans."
The riders follow the Texas Vietnam Veterans Highway, which is the portion of U.S. Highway 83 in Texas and extends from the Oklahoma state line at the top of the Texas Panhandle to Brownsville. The Run began with five riders and this year 106 participated.
"I have been riding in the Welcome Home Run for the past five years," explained Mr. Pineda. "In 2005 and 2006, I was able to do only part of the run. However, each year since 2007, I have ridden the entire distance from the start of the run in Perryton, Texas all the way to Brownsville."
The riders are welcomed by speeches, handshakes, meals and prayers unlike upon their initial return home from serving their country. Calling it a healing process, Mr. Pineda added that the event is about "veterans bonding with other veterans, being welcomed by the different civic, church and service organizations in many Texas towns along the route of the run. There is a tremendous sense of pride knowing that so many people go out of their way to acknowledge that America's veterans are truly appreciated."
Although I did not serve in Vietnam, I am a child of the Vietnam era," said Founder of the Welcome Home Run, Mr. Brent Jackson of Wolfforth. "I am forever grateful to those who did serve and especially to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We will work hard to see that they are never forgotten."
Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. honors participants of the Texas Vietnam Memorial Highway Motorcycle Run in Austin on May 7 with a Senate Resolution honoring the yearly event and all Vietnam Veterans.
Outdoor group photo was taken at the Texas-Oklahoma line where the Run begins.