A time to reflect

Published 10:35 pm Friday, September 13, 2019

By Rachel Wartian


Fifty years ago, America was participating in one of the longest wars in the country’s history. Now, we take time to honor those who fought in this devastating war.

Email newsletter signup

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War started in 2012 and is planned to last through 2025. This is to reflect on the many years of the war. Each year, the Isle of Wight County Museum hosts a veteran to reflect on their years of service.

This year’s event will take place at 11 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Isle of Wight County Museum, 103 Main St., Smithfield, and is free to the public.

Smithfield resident, retired Gen. Aaron Lilley, will be the guest speaker. He served two tours in Vietnam and will share his experiences from his time overseas. According to the Isle of Wight County Museum’s website, Gen. Lilley’s first tour was in December 1961, when he landed in Saigon with the first two helicopter companies. He then returned in 1969 aboard the first floating aircraft maintenance facility, USNS Corpus Christi Bay.

Other veterans who served in Vietnam are welcome to join the conversation. After Lilley gives his talk, there will be some discussion with the large group of veterans in attendance.

“Once the lecturer shares their story, discussions and further sharing happens,” said Jennifer England, director of Isle of Wight County Museum.

The Isle of Wight County Museum is a partner with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. This organization gives official lapel pins to veterans of the Vietnam War for free as a small thank you for their valuable service. These pins will be awarded to the veterans who attend as “A Lasting Memento of the Nation’s Thanks,” according to the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration.

Isle of Wight County Museum held this event earlier this year in March on Vietnam Veteran’s Day. Retired Col. Herb De Groft was present to talk about his experiences in Vietnam as well as the war’s legacy.