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Published: Saturday, 3/31/2012

Kasich signs bill establishing Vietnam Veterans' Day


COLUMBUS -- Ohio's veterans services director Friday tapped repeatedly on a podium, spelling out "GBU," short for "God Bless the United States," the same message he and fellow prisoners-of-war in Vietnam used to tap to one another for encouragement.

"We can finally say we are welcomed at home," Col. Tom Moe said just before Gov. John Kasich signed a bill naming March 30 Vietnam Veterans' Day in Ohio.

Colonel Moe spent five years in a Vietnam prison at the same time that future U.S. Sen. John McCain was there.

It took years and three legislative attempts for the bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills), to reach the governor's desk.

"America loves you now," Mr. Kasich told roughly 20 Vietnam War veterans crowded into his Statehouse office. "It was difficult when you came home."

Several of them gave Mr. Kasich bracelets on which were engraved the names of fellow soldiers who were killed or missing in action.

"While we can never make up the welcome home that some of our servicemen and women did not receive in 1973, the intention of this act is to begin to heal the wounds that first occurred almost 40 years ago," Mr. Wagoner said.

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