CHICAGO (WLS) — Down in Springfield, the House is expected to vote on a resolution, officially making Wednesday, March 29 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Illinois.

Meanwhile, veterans and their families met along the Chicago Riverwalk Wednesday morning, commemorating this day in history.

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, a wreath laying ceremony was held, honoring those who gave their lives to the United States.

“And we were the lucky ones. We got to come home. The names on that wall, that’s why we do this here,” veteran Kevin Calkins said.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of when the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973.

More than 58,000 members of the United States Armed Forces lost their lives in Vietnam. More than 300,000 were wounded.

Carlos Saladino was one of those wounded, taking Wednesday to reflect on the young lives lost.

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“It’s all volunteer Army now. Back then, it was drafting. And people don’t understand draftees. I turned 19 years old when I was over there, and so the life that was lost then. I see myself, I’m 73 years old and I’ve got four children, married my wife, had a good job with the Chicago Police Department, met so many good friends, and what they missed,” Saladino said.

Nearly 3,000 of those killed in Vietnam were from Illinois.

Their names are on display at the memorial site.

Each veteran took turns passing the microphone, saying the names of their fallen friends aloud.

“We can all relate in a certain way, just by being there, and it makes a difference, keeps us closer together,” veteran Barron Buchunas said.

In Springfield, the House resolution will be voted on Wednesday.

The session is expected to start at noon.

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March 29, 2023 at 12:35PM