Lehigh Valley

Families of local soldiers lead Memorial Day ceremony at Steel Stacks

Remembering those lost in Vietnam

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A large crowd gathered in Bethlehem on Memorial Day to honor those who served and died in the Vietnam War.

"Today is about the veterans who didn't come home. Those are the guys who are the heroes," said Michael Regrut, a Vietnam veteran.

Family members of local soldiers who died in Vietnam were guest speakers at the ceremony held at Steel Stacks.

"Today we honored the Vietnam vets who died in Vietnam. We gathered their families and offered them some comfort that we are thinking of them. We do honor them," said Anna Rodriguez, treasurer of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers.

Michael Regrut said he thinks of two fallen soldiers every day.

"I wear two bracelets for my Phillipsburg classmate and another Phillipsburg member of the high school. Jimmy Konyu and Billy Suydam are still missing from Vietnam," Regrut said.

Regrut also served in Vietnam and said his heart still breaks, when he thinks about how veterans were sometimes treated when they returned from the war.

As public opposition for the war grew, support for returning soldiers fell.

"When we came back, there was no parades, no yellow ribbons around the trees. We were almost embarrassed to be seen as a veteran. We hid our military clothes," Regrut said.

Mike Burritt, also a Vietnam Veteran, recalls similar treatment.

"When they came home they had nothing, they were spit on, scorned and ignored," Regrut said.

Regrut and Burritt said they were honored to attend the event honoring those vets who weren't recognized years ago.

Their wish is for all Americans to take a moment and think of all the men and women who died in the service.

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