NEW YORK — Ten years after the last American soldier came home from Vietnam, veterans were honored with a two-day celebration beginning Monday with the lighting of the Vietnam veterans memorial and a fireworks display.
The celebration also will include a ticker tape parade, a reunion for veterans aboard the USS Intrepid and a sail aboard two yachts on the Hudson and East rivers.
The celebration, with the slogan "It's time," was organized by the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, which was established in February, 1982, to create a memorial as well as a job training program for veterans.
The centerpiece of the commission's efforts is the memorial, a glass block wall in lower Manhattan. The wall is etched with 83 letters written by or to servicemen who took part in the war.
Koch in Ceremony
The wall was to be lighted by Mayor Edward I. Koch Monday night in a ceremony to be viewed by 2,000 invited guests, mostly veterans and their families whose letters were included in the monument.
Today, as many as 25,000 veterans were expected to assemble in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza for a march into Manhattan for a ticker tape parade down Broadway. By Monday, 15,000 veterans had registered to march.
The parade will be led by the West Point band and Vietnam veterans who won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
They will cross the Brooklyn Bridge and be joined at City Hall by disabled veterans. They will then pass a reviewing stand and proceed down Broadway through a blizzard of ticker tape.
Commission officials said that it could be the largest ticker tape parade in the city's history, larger than the celebration for the Olympians last year and the parade for the Iranian hostages in 1981.