The Vietnam War was a devastating conflict that divided the United States and caused the deaths of almost 60,000 Americans and even more Vietnamese civilians. Many people were opposed to the war, and some protesters’ criticisms also extended to the Americans who fought.

Many of these veterans are receiving the proper recognition after 50 years. On March 29, 2016, there were dozens of commencement ceremonies throughout the U.S. to honor veterans who had served in Southeast Asia. Over the next ten years, there will be almost 5,000 more ceremonies.

Many veterans who have been honored are grateful for the recognition after so many years. Robert Gurley, an Air Force veteran, said, “It’s almost like saying thank you after all of these years.

This is kind of like a small payback to recognize us because we should have been recognized.” At the Memphis ceremony, more than 100 veterans were recognized for their service.

At the ceremony in Springfield, Missouri, several veterans shared their stories from when they returned from Vietnam.

One former Army officer said, “I was booed. I was called a baby killer. I was all spiffed up and they booed me, which was not a pleasant thing.” Troops who served in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos faced tough environmental conditions and witnessed horrific atrocities committed by the enemy. Vietnam veterans faced combat days than veterans in any other war, and thousands came home with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fortunately, these veterans are finally being honored after so many years.

50 Commemorative of the Vietnam War