America loves its war heroes. Almost every week you'll find a heartwarming feature on a local news report of a soldier coming home to surprise their family – usually in some "throwing out the first pitch" type of hidden ruse. It's an honor that's at once both public and family-focused, and each one is well-deserved.
The Fourth of July couldn't have a better ad campaign. Red, white, blue and desert camouflage. These fireworks will burn just a bit brighter; the flags held just a bit higher. We actively remember the pride we have when we call ourselves Americans.
But there was an entire generation of American heroes who were left ignored and un-honored as they came home from a war when our veterans weren't as readily revered. The heroes of the Vietnam War came home to a much different political reality than exists now.
The North Carolina Association of Broadcasters made sure that the Vietnam veterans finally heard those cheers that had so long been delayed. In conjunction with the USO of North Carolina, they hosted a Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. 210,000 Vietnam vets (and their families) were honored during the event.
The member stations of the NCAB donated over $1,000,000 in PSAs, and in addition to the live coverage throughout, they also produced an hour-long special covering the celebration. The event got the attention of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, resulting in the NCAB receiving the President's Special Award during the organization's Service to America Awards.
The event so impressed fellow Service to America honoree Stevie Wonder that he said that should they do a second event, he'd be proud to be a part of it.
The broadcasters didn't do this for their own recognition. It wasn't to satisfy any long-lost political agenda.
They did it because it's what they do. They showcase the best of the community, and that's what these heroes have always been. Every day, local TV broadcasters use their unique position in the marketplace to turn the cameras back on, to remind us of stories that have been forgotten or overlooked.
Military service is held in special regard in North Carolina due to the presence of many military bases in the state, most famously Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. So no matter where they're originally from, the personnel that come through these facilities each become native sons – it's where they became soldiers. It's because of this that the local TV broadcasters feel a particular responsibility to recognize the sacrifices made by members of their extended community.
It's not endemic to just North Carolina, but they sure do know how to make it show.
Today's military knows that their country is behind them, no matter where or why they are deployed. The veterans of Vietnam never got to enjoy that sort of certainty. Thanks to the efforts of many proud North Carolina patriots, they finally had the homecoming that's been so very long delayed – and know that they have the admiration of an appreciative nation, now and forever.
Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at email@example.com.
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