‘Long overdue’ tribute to Vietnam veterans planned

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The Conococheague Players on Dec. 4 will salute Franklin County residents who served in Vietnam when the group presents “Reflections: A Long Overdue Tribute to Franklin County’s Vietnam War Veterans.” The program follows tributes to other local veterans, World War II veterans in 2008 and Korean War veterans in 2009.

 “The valor demonstrated by Americans in Vietnam mirrors the conduct of Americans at war from the first days of our existence,” said Bill Pukmel, the tribute’s producer/director. “To salute this sort of conduct in our World War II and Korean War veterans — as the Conococheague Players have done the past couple of years — was the right thing to do. I believe that our Vietnam warriors deserve no less.”

According to Pukmel, several Franklin County veterans have either contributed essays or sat with him for interviews about their Vietnam experiences.

“As I read their essays and the transcripts from our interviews, I found a recurring theme — one that says to me these Vietnam veterans really aren’t much different than Americans who have served in other fights,” Pukmel said. “Sure, circumstances surrounding the war may differ from other conflicts but the warriors do not.”  

Pukmel said other local Vietnam veterans are invited to participate by submitting essays of their experiences or sitting with him for an interview. He may be contacted at bpukmel@embarqmail.com or at 717-267-3662 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. He said he hopes to have all interviews completed and essays in hand by Oct. 30.

The Dec. 4 program will not be a theatrical production, according to Pukmel. Nor will it be about presidents and dictators, military brass and battle plans, or about decisions over which our local Vietnam War vets had no control. It will simply be an opportunity for our Franklin County Vietnam veterans to share their stories and for their friends and neighbors to thank them for their service, he said.

Members of the community are invited to join the county’s Vietnam veterans at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4 in Thomson Chapel, Wilson College. Admission will be $10 for adults with proceeds going to the Franklin County Military Outreach Program, a local non-profit organization that provides assistance in various forms to the families of local active duty military personnel. Vietnam War veterans and a guest will be admitted free of charge whether they share their war experiences or not. Children attending with an adult also will be admitted at no charge.