Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 135 of Youngstown, Ohio, hosted a “Laying of the Roses” ceremony to honor 104 Mahoning County service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Chapter member Bill Pacak emceed the ceremony, which took place Nov. 3 at the town’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Family members and veterans placed a single red rose next to the memorial as each of the names of the fallen was read aloud. The program included a tribute to prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIAs), featuring a chair empty except for a single red rose.
State Rep. Don Manning (R-New Middletown), a Navy veteran, was the guest speaker. His father, Don Manning Sr., once agreed to hold onto a guitar for his roommate until he could return from combat; his roommate never returned. “Fifty years later, my 78-year-old dad still has his roommate’s guitar,” Manning said.
About 60% of Vietnam veterans suffer from serious emotional problems, he added, and struggle with alcohol abuse, homelessness and other issues. “He could still have the war raging inside him. He may cry a lot or be as cold as ice,” Manning said. At the same time, “They’re the man or woman next to you doing their job and going home.”