Fayetteville, NC – October 25, 2011 – Bob Graveen voluntarily enlisted in the military in 1972 to serve in the Vietnam War. Now, more than 30 years later, he is finally getting the welcome home he deserves but never received when he returned to the states. And he’s making sure Vietnam vets across the country get theirs as well.
“We were told to change out of our uniforms and into civilian clothes at the airport, which didn’t bother us at the time because we were so thankful just to be home,” said Graveen. “But we never expected to be ostracized by society like we were. Many people actually felt like we owed them an apology for doing our duty and serving our country.”
For the past two years, Graveen has been a key player in planning Heroes Homecoming, the biggest commemoration ever for Vietnam veterans. The 10-day, 60-event celebration will take place in Fayetteville, North Carolina from November 4-13, 2011. Vietnam veterans everywhere are invited to finally get their long overdue “welcome home.”
Graveen served as a helicopter crew chief outside of Saigon from 1972 to 1973. According to Graveen, most of his fellow soldiers spent their entire time in Vietnam wishing they were home. They had no idea the reception that would greet them upon their return.
“We weren’t heroes and didn’t expect to be treated as heroes when we came home, but a simple ‘thank you’ would have been nice,” said Graveen. “That’s why Heroes Homecoming is going to be such a big deal after all this time.”
Originally from Wisconsin, Graveen came to Fayetteville when he enlisted and decided to stay when he returned because of the community’s overwhelming support for the military.
“There’s no other place in the country like Fayetteville when it comes to its support for the military and their families,” added Graveen. “I hope the rest of the country, especially Vietnam vets, will get to experience this firsthand during Heroes Homecoming.”
Graveen is now president of the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter and a member of the 82nd Airborne Association. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife and has two grown sons, two granddaughters and three step-grandsons. He got involved with Heroes Homecoming after finding out about the event from Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, who hand-selected him to join the planning task force. Graveen was one of eight people chosen to speak at the opening ceremony for Heroes Homecoming at Freedom Memorial Park last November when the official event logo was unveiled. He is working closely with Fort Bragg on the Rededication of the Vietnam War Memorial scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 10 at the Fort Bragg Main Post Parade Field, as well as helping coordinate Vietnam veteran participation in the Veterans Day Parade taking place on Saturday, November 12.
Fayetteville/Cumberland County is home to the largest military installation in the country. Since more than 200,000 troops trained at Fayetteville’s Fort Bragg before being deployed to Vietnam, there’s no more fitting place to host Heroes Homecoming than America’s First Military Sanctuary community. Event organizers are pulling out all the stops to make sure that Vietnam veterans across the country know about the event.
“We are doing everything within our power to make sure each and every Vietnam vet knows about Heroes Homecoming and has the opportunity to finally get their ‘welcome home,’” said John Meroski, President and CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (FACVB). “In particular, we want the streets of downtown Fayetteville to be overflowing with vets and supporters during our annual Veterans Day Parade so we say a very visible ‘thank you” to our Vietnam vets.”
The Veterans Day Parade will be the most visible of all the Heroes Homecoming events. Vietnam veterans are invited to take part by marching in the parade. If you are interested in participating, contact Bob Graveen at (919) 498-1770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heroes Homecoming is being held in partnership with the FACVB. All Heroes Homecoming events recognize the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam veterans, ranging from concerts and parades, to lectures and movie viewings, to cultural celebrations and recognition ceremonies. For more information on Heroes Homecoming, visit www.HeroesHomecoming.com.
About Heroes Homecoming:As America’s First Military Sanctuary Community, Fayetteville/Cumberland County is giving brave Vietnam veterans the welcome home they deserve. The community will host Heroes Homecoming – the biggest commemoration/reunion of its kind – for the 10 days leading up to Veterans Day 2011. The event series will feature celebrations, discussions, fellowship and memories for all those who attend. Heroes Homecoming is Fayetteville/Cumberland County’s way of showing all Vietnam veterans that we remember and appreciate their courage, their sacrifice and everything they’ve done to defend our freedom – now and forever.
About the FACVB:The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual travel. For additional information, visit www.visitfayettevillenc.com or call 1-800-255-8217. Fayetteville/Cumberland County is America's first military sanctuary. Through the Army's Army and other volunteer groups, our citizens and businesses are dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us ©.”