CONCORD—The Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Saturday was the welcome many veterans never had.
The day-long celebration was filled with moving events and veterans and their families could not be more thankful. The U.S. Army parachute team kicked off the celebration by dropping into the speedway's infield; followed by a moment of silence during a fly over of F-15s in the Missing Man formation.
"It's just soothing to see things like that," said retired Sgt.Harold Dully, who is also a Purple Heart recipient. Dully stopped by the replica of the Vietnam Memorial wall with thousands of others. The wall holds the names of more than 1,600 North Carolinians who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For Dully it helps him feel a connection with his fallen brother, Frank Tafoya, who was killed in Vietnam at the age of 18.
"It makes you feel like he's here, I feel it when I touch it, touch the wall, I make contact with him," said Dully.
Many veterans said this is the first public display of gratitude they have received for their service. Even people such as Staff Sgt. Robert Vaughn, who is highly decorated.
"I got 40 medals and i have paperwork for them all," said Vaughn.
Even though the homecoming celebration is long-overdue to many, they said they are grateful to those helping them close this chapter in their lives.
Nearly 70,000 people registered to attend the event.