DENISON, TX -- Too many friends and family of those serving in the military know the pain of losing a loved one, And they're not the only ones. Veterans are often in the field with fellow-servicemen when tragedy strikes, leaving behind emotional wounds.
While many military service terms last less than five years, experiences and memories of those lost during those years last a lifetime. It makes Memorial Day a day of mourning and remembrance for their fallen friends.
Denison VFW members like Paul Richards and Wilbur Horner both lost friends in Vietnam.
"I have a lot of friends who actually died in combat, and I'm here today to honor their memory," says Richards, a Vietnam veteran.
"I like to remember the guys that didn't come back, the ones that I know died over there," Horner, a Navy Vietnam veteran, says.
Like members of the military become a family, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars often provide the same feeling and atmosphere. But Vietnam veterans say they didn't feel welcome until a few months ago.
Especially without support from those who served in Vietnam, Post 2773 in Denison was struggling for active members. Richards says he answered the call for members and now feels at home at the VFW.
"It's a very fulfilling experience,” he says. “When I first came home from Vietnam, I didn't really feel welcome in the VFW, and that attitude has changed 180 degrees."
Horner had similar experiences, but also decided to join. Now Post 2773 is alive and well, with Vietnam veterans ready to help keep it that way.
Horner says he's glad to finally feel like his generation is welcome.
"I'm glad that Vietnam veterans are finally getting some recognition because when I came back, they treated you like you was dirt. I thought I'd come back to a different country."
A Denison VFW spokesperson says veterans of all foreign wars are welcome. The younger generation of veterans is the future of the organization and the more members there are, the more positive impact they can have in the community.