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Military veterans who served in the Vietnam War will finally get their official welcome home next weekend in Wellington at Tribute08.
The veterans will be welcomed to Wellington on Friday 30 May by Mayor Kerry Prendergast at a ceremony held in Civic Square which will be followed by a Beat Retreat performed by the NZ Army.
On Saturday morning an Honour Parade will be held through the Wellington CBD. The veterans and their families will march from Civic Square to Parliament where they will be greeted by the Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Chris Mullane, Chairman of Tribute08 said, “It will mean so much to the veterans if the people of Wellington turn out to support them and their families during the Honour Parade, as they did in such great numbers ten years ago when the veterans held their own street march as part of Parade '98. The tremendous public support in 1998 greatly lifted everyone’s spirits and we are looking forward to it again.”
Following the welcome at Parliament the families of those who gave their lives in Vietnam will carry photos of their loved ones to the Legislative Council Chamber where they can be honoured by family, veterans and the public until midnight Saturday. Members of the Navy, Army and Air Force will mount a Vigil during the whakanoa (healing) ceremony.
The Vice Chief of Defence Force Rear Admiral Jack Steer said, “I hope that Tribute08 will enable veterans and their families to move forward into the future with the respect and mana they deserve. It is time to recognise that mistakes were made in the past and to acknowledge the valuable contribution of those that served.”
On Sunday a waka wairua containing the spirits of those who lost their lives in Vietnam will be taken from Legislative Council Chamber to the National War Memorial in Buckle Street where a wreath laying ceremony will be held.
The veterans and their families will then march to the Basin Reserve where they will be honoured by the public and dignitaries. The programme includes speeches by His Excellency the Governor General of New Zealand, the Honorable Anand Satyanand and Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae. During the ceremony 1RNZIR will be presented with its Regimental Colour with the Theatre Honour – Vietnam 1967 - 71, updated to acknowledge all infantry companies that served in Vietnam.
The ceremony will also include a tri-Service Guard of Honour, a 37-gun salute, performances by the NZ Army Band and the Central Band of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as well as a flypast of RNZAF aircraft. The event will conclude with a concert featuring the Maori Volcanics.
Summary of Public Invitations:
Saturday, 31 May. Support the Honour March to Parliament commencing at Civic Square 10.00am and the Whakanoa Ceremony in Parliament Grounds commencing 11.00am and concluding approx 12.30pm. Pay your respects to the Vietnam Fallen and sign the Book of Remembrance, 1.30pm to Midnight in the Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament.
Sunday, 1 June. Attend the Basin Reserve Commemoration & Celebration commencing 9.30am and concluding approx 1.30pm. “Good Night Vietnam” – the Public Concert, 7.30pm at the TSB Bank Arena; a nostalgic 60s – 70s show. Tickets, $25 - $45.00 through Ticketek on 0800 842 538.
For further information visit www.tribute08.com