• Christina Mehta Prendiville

50th Vietnam War Commemoration Marked by Estero Island Chapter, National Society Daughters of the Am

Local DAR chapters to host special events in Lee County throughout the month of March

Estero Island Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), is proud to honor the 50th Vietnam War Commemoration with a series of events in Lee County throughout the month of March. The Commemoration includes an exhibit at Lee County Regional Library beginning March 1, a Veterans Day Ceremony on March 29, and proclamations by both Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson and Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann.

The 50th Vietnam War Commemoration activities are being held in tandem with the national organization based in Washington, DC, and DAR chapters across the country to recognize the sacrifices of Vietnam War veterans and their families. This is part of a national effort to recognize the men and women who returned home after the war more than 40 years ago.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act empowers the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program on behalf of the nation that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. By presidential proclamation on May 25, 2012, the Commemoration extends from Memorial Day 2012 through Veterans Day 2025. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the period of the Vietnam War; approximately 7 million are living today.

Vietnam era service men and women make up the largest percentage of combat veterans living in Florida. Florida is one of three states with the largest number of living Vietnam veterans.

“In the fall of 1971, I was an Army nurse at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where I witnessed the 173rd Airborne unit return from Vietnam,” said Carolee Dunivan, Co-Chair of the 50th Vietnam War Commemoration organized by Estero Island Chapter, NSDAR. “To my dismay, the soldiers were not greeted with parades or appreciation like the celebrations I remembered from previous wars when growing up in rural Nebraska. Veterans of WWI and WWII had been venerated as local and national heroes in elaborate spectacles. In the conspicuous absence of any sort of public honor, men and women who served in Vietnam, the war we ‘lost’, tried to return to their lives and families in a country that seemed to want to forget those that served in it.

“Despite attempts to return to a normal life, as more soldiers returned, suicides, accidents and violence increased in the rural community on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.”

Richard Plesak, current President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Firebase #594 chapter in Lee

County, is pleased that his organization was approached by the Estero Island Chapter, NSDAR, to partner for the 50th Vietnam War Commemoration. The Cape Coral-based group will be presenting the colors on March 29. Plesak said, “It’s a commemoration for us and we want to honor our brothers and sisters who didn’t come home.

“Although Vietnam vets have had the same problems and concerns as vets of other wars, for some reason it’s been a different experience.” Locally, VVA Chapter #594 provides assistance to veterans and their families in Lee County, regardless of the war they served. According to Plesak, over 75,000 vets are registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Lee County.

The 50th Vietnam War Commemoration is recognition of the veterans who are now being honored for their contribution to our nation’s history.

Estero Island Chapter, NSDAR, 50th Vietnam War Commemoration Schedule of Events:

  • March 1-30, 2017. 50th Vietnam War Commemoration Display at Fort Myers Regional Library. The Estero Island, Caloosahatchee, and Lawrence Kearney Chapters of DAR are co-hosting a display throughout the month.

  • March 6, 2017. Reading of the Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamations in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War at the Fort Myers City Council meeting. 4:30pm

  • March 29, 2107. Vietnam Veterans Day Ceremony to honor local Vietnam veterans. Ceremony will include attendance by veterans and their families, Vietnam Veterans of America Color Guard, POW/MIA recognition, presentation of Estero Island Chapter, NSDAR, certificates of appreciation and 50th Commemoration lapel pins, reading of proclamations by Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson and Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann, and attendance by other local dignitaries. Fort Myers Regional Library at 2450 First Street, in the South Building Meeting Rooms A-D from 11:30am to 1:30pm.

For more information contact Carolee Dunivan at (708) 890-7280 or visit


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