Before we even got our charter as a state council we were confronted with two very important issues here in Vermont. Both being as important as the other. Below is the first of the two issues and with the help of many people both were completed in a very positive way.
"BETTER LATE THAN NEVER"
THE VERMONT PATRIOTS MEDAL
By John P. Rowan: New York Vietnam Veterans of America State Council President
In 1966, during the early stages of the Vietnam War, The Vermont State Legislature approved Joint Resolution #42, which authorized the development of the "Vermont Patriots Medal" to be awarded to the parents of men killed in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the production of the medal was not funded at the time and its development was overlooked. Thanks of the effort of the Vermont State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, this oversight was rectified and in 1996 the medal was presented during the annual POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies.
Joint Resolution 42 noted that the legislature always desired to suitably recognize vermonters who fell in battle and thus, authorized, "That the commanding General of the Vermont National Guard shall cause to be struck a suitable medal to be known as the Vermont Patriot's Medal, that copies of such medals together with a scroll acknowledging Vermont's debt be presented to the next of kin of each Vermont serviceman whose life is given in an armed conflict such as that which exists today in South Vietnam..."
The medal comes in a 5 1/2 x 7 1/2, padded, green leatherette, bi-fold presentation case with the words "Vermont Patriots Medal" in gilt letters (BELOW), inside on the left hand side is a scroll, which notes that the medal is presented:...to the family of a Vermont Service Person, whose life was given in armed conflict". On the right side of the case the medal is set inside a shadow box and the back of the ribbon is attached by velcro (SEE BELOW).
The medal is a cross of white enamel with gold edges, which is a symbol of the first Vermont regiment and dates to the earliest symbols used by Vermont's Green Mountain Boys. Covering the cross is a shield depicting a scene looking east from Lake Champlain to Camel's Hump and the green Mountains under a clear sky with the head of a white tail buck from the Vermont coat of arms. It is inlaid enamel with gold edges. The shield is similar to the insignia of Vermont's 172nd Infantry of World War II Fame.
The ribbon consists of a center stripe of purple with white edges representing the Purple Heart. Emanating out from each side of the white stripes are green,gold, and blue stripes. The green and blue bands represent the green mountains and the lakes and streams beneath a blue sky. The gold represents the things of highest value in their hills and valleys, the brave and creative people of Vermont.
Attached to the ribbon is a clasp which connects to a straight bar hanger that attaches the medal to the ribbon. The clasp, Vermont 1764 Patriot. Denotes the name of the medal and the year the republic of Vermont first called her citizens to arms. A bronze star is also attached to the ribbon, whose significance is not explained.
The medal was presented to family members on September 21, 1996 in conjunction with POW/MIA Recognition Day and Vermont Patriot's Day. 102 Vermonters gave their lives in Vietnam. It is estimated that over 70 medals were presented during the event.
A Vermont Veteran, who wished to remain anonymous, designed the medal. On the program he was quoted as follows: " I truly believe we must honor together the ones from whom even their life was needed so that we might continue. All that I can do for the families is to always remember, honor the memories, and offer this token which will forever reflect the cost of freedom borne by those Vermonters who gave all. " I have learned that the designer has since been identified as Mr. L Leigh Sykes, an Air Force Vietnam Veterans, whose family has served under arms since the revolution.
While it is sad that it took so long for this tribute to occur, Vermont can be proud of the final product. It may also be unique, as I am unaware of any other state medals specifically created to honor those who were killed in the Vietnam War. If anyone has information on similar medals, please contact me at (718) 326-4656 in the evenings or e-mail at VVANYSC@AOL.COM
Note: I wish to thank Mr. John Miner, President of the Vermont State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America, and Lt. Michael Johnson of the Vermont National Guard for their assistance in collecting information for this article.
Also check out this site for the story on the days event on the ceremony of the Patriots Medal:
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