Amid the celebration of our national birthday, it's a reminder that our freedom isn't free.

About 100 people gathered in Bethlehem Thursday to honor and recognize those who answered our country's call.

"Without them and everyone else before, we wouldn't be here today celebrating Independence Day, having our freedoms," shared Carol Resh, president of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of Gold Star Mothers.

But this tribute was for one specific chapter in our nation's history, the Vietnam War, and all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"Went to boot camp and right after that straight to Vietnam. We haven't seen him since," explained Sharon Antrim.

It was a war the American people didn't all agree with. And many of the soldiers fighting for America weren't respected.

"They were not really treated the way they should have been treated when they came home," described Resh.

"The people that did go over there and gave their lives for our country are truly heroes," added Vincent Doddy. "But a lot of people didn't see it that way."

Vincent was just 13 when his older brother Victor left for the Asian nation.

"It was a very traumatic experience for both me and for my parents when we got the news that fateful day July 18th, 1968," he remembered.

Sharon Antrim remembers like it was yesterday when she was told her younger brother Dennis Burian wouldn't be coming home.

"It's something you never get over," she shared. "You know it's almost 45 years, we don't get over it."

But on Thursday, the sacrifices were remembered, and the heroes revered.

It's part of a national program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and thank those who fought for our country.

The program started in 2012 and continues through 2025 to pay tribute to the more than three million servicemen and women who served bravely.

"We can't change the way they were treated," said Resh. "But we hope to make it up in some way and honor them."

If you have a loved one, or know someone from the Lehigh Valley who lost their life during the Vietnam War, the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Gold Star Mothers wants to hear from you.

You can contact Carol Resh at 610-398-1124, or through email at