by Renata Toney
(VETS HONORED: above photo University District Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, Commander Henry
Jermigan and First Vice Commander Walter Cole.
More than 2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam; 11 percent were African American servicemen. Most returned home from the war to a somewhat hostile political environment in the United States. The impact of the anti-War protests across the nation in the late 1960s and early 1970s fostered an anti-Vietnam veteran atmosphere that lasted for nearly 20 years after the war ended.
Today, a nationwide campaign is being led by the Department of Defense and supported by VA as part of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Program to officially recognized and thank them for their service. Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) recently honored over 50 veterans who served during the Vietnam War during a special Black History Month celebration presented by the Bennett-Wells American Legion Post and Auxiliary #1780.
Higgins said, “Fifty years ago, this Country failed to properly welcome our Vietnam Veterans home. And therefore, it is especially significant to be here, at the Bennett-Wells American Legion Post, a place that represents great history and leadership in recognizing and welcoming all service members. While we can’t undo the unjustified reception veterans received years ago, we can work today and each day forward to appropriately express the sincere appreciation these veterans deserve for their commitment and selfless service to this country.”
Congressman Higgins also acknowledged the hard work and dedication of
University District Councilmember Rasheed N.C. Wyatt who joined him for the presentation. “We thank Congressman Higgins for paying a special visit to recognize our veterans and advocate at the congressional level for their unique needs. I also thank the Bennett-Wells American Legion Post and Auxiliary #1780 for its warm hospitality and ongoing support of those who defend our freedom. We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans and their families.”
After World War II, over 100 African Americans retuning to Buffalo were not welcome to join existing American Legion posts. Those veterans worked together to form the Bennett-Wells American Legion Post, established in 1946 and chartered in 1954. The Post is named in honor of the first two African American soldiers killed in WWII, Private James Bennett and Lieutenant Johnson Wells.
The America Vietnam War Commemoration was authorized by Congress and pledges to honor United States veterans who served on active duty in the United States Armed Forces at between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
The commemoration is taking place nationwide, with the presentation of Vietnam War Commemoration pins presented between Memorial Day 2012 through Veterans Day 2025. Congressman Higgins’s office is a registered commemorative partner, committed to honoring Vietnam Veterans over the designated Anniversary period.