Veterans Honored With Special Ceremony In Tulsa

Saturday, July 18th 2009, 10:02 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Veterans received a welcome home 34 years in the making.

Veterans of the Vietnam War were honored by one of their own. It was part of a special ceremony to thank all veterans.

There was a musical tribute from the heart of a Vietnam veteran. Leo Perez served for the U.S. Army in 1970.

"We drove truck and delivered ammo and we did our part," said Leo Perez, a Vietnam War veteran.

Saturday night, Perez was part of a special tribute for all military veterans as part of Welcome Home Day.

"This is to celebrate our veterans," said Adam Walmus, VA Medical Center Director.

Perez's contribution was a song he specifically wrote for his fellow Vietnam War veterans called "Welcome Home Soldier."

"It's talking about the veterans coming home. ‘You heard the battle cry, you answered the call, your country needed you and you would not let it fall,'" said Leo Perez.

Perez and his wife say the lingering memories of his painful return to the U.S. after serving in Vietnam are still with them. They're glad to see today's veterans get a much different welcome than he received nearly four decades ago.

"When he came home he got rid of his uniform and his medals. There was so much shame associated with it and no welcome," said Alma Perez, Leo's wife.

The celebration at Centennial Park was organized through Mayor Kathy Taylor's office of Veterans Affairs.

The main focus is to honor Tulsa's veterans, but to also let them know about the resources available through a number of organizations such as the VA Medical Center.

"Medical care, surgery, mental health, rehabilitation medicine," said Adam Walmus, VA Medical Center Director.

The Perez family says the event is therapy for all the men and women who served, but also for a man who has waited 37 years to get a friendly, welcome home.

"We're excited about it because this is healing to him and it's restoration to many that are out there, so we're excited about it so welcome home," said Alma Perez, Leo's wife.