In 1965 the Vietnam War had been going on for quite some time. Support for our sons and daughters in that far away land was eroding rapidly. Demonstrators at home and abroad were continuing at an alarming rate. Many factors including our Vietnam war strategy, put our troops in a position where we could not win.
When our heroes who answered their countries call arrived back in the United States, they were treated shamelessly by many of the very people they were serving. It was a sad time in the history of our country.
In 1965 the Rochester Jaycees spearheaded the adoption of the 173d Airborne Brigade. This project was designed to show our support for our sons and daughters who were serving their country so far away from home. This quickly became a city wide project. Jaycees, nurses, girl scouts, boy scouts and the entire city became involved. Items that could be used for health and cleanliness were collected, filling two train boxcars for shipment to Vietnam and the 173d. Rochester was the second city in the nation to show support for our Vietnam Veterans by adopting a Vietnam fighting unit.
It was not until the 173d returned to Rochester for their annual reunion in 1995 that Rochester found out how important the adoption was some 30 years earlier. Rochester gave the returning 173d heroes the welcome that they so richly deserved. The 173d participated in the Rochesterfest parade and all along the parade route the entire city stood and honored those returning heroes.
The Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial that you see today, is the result of the seed planted in 1965 that started to grow in 1995. The original idea to have a memorial plaque honoring the 173d grew to include every significant conflict from our Civil War to the Golf War. Reminding us all that the freedom we enjoy is not free.