Six years ago, Cumberland County created Heroes Homecoming as a way of showing recognition and appreciation to all veterans for their courage, their sacrifice and everything they do to defend this country’s freedom.
“The Fayetteville area has always had a unique bond with veterans, as the point of departure and return for hundreds of thousands of soldiers,” said John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This year, the communities of Cumberland County will again host veterans and families from across the region to participate in a weeklong celebration honoring the brave men and women who served our country in Vietnam,” he continued.
The 2017 Heroes Homecoming Committee is seeking to set the Guinness World Record for most Missing Man Tables in one community. The committee is asking all Cumberland County businesses to participate by setting up a Missing Man Table at their place of business. The committee will provide all materials needed and protocol for the table. Each business is asked to rope off or indicate their table is for display only. The table should be on display from Nov. 1 through 12.
“We’ll provide the commemorative kits of items to be displayed on each table,” Meroski said. Businesses that may not be able to set up tables are asked to drape American flags over single chairs. “These simple memorials will reflect the real patriotic pride that exists in our community,” he said.
Business owners interested in being a part of this record-setting commemoration of those Missing in Action should contact Angie Brady at the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau by Aug. 13. Contact Angie by calling (910) 4835311 or emailing [email protected]
Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Spring Lake and Eastover are planning events for the week of Nov. 4. They include the annual downtown Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade and a bike rally. The Moving Wall, a commemorative half-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., will be displayed again this year on the Airborne and Special Operations Museum parade field in the week before Veterans Day. “All of the events at Heroes Homecoming recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of our brave Vietnam veterans,” Meroski said.
The FACVB took the lead in organizing the first Heroes Homecoming and the four annual observances since then. The “welcome home” veterans never received at the conclusion of the war 35 years earlier was the idea of then-Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne.
“No city felt any more of the prolonged association with that unpopular war than this one,” Chavonne said. “That was all the more reason for Vietnam veterans to be the first group recognized during Heroes Homecoming.” The Greater Fayetteville community made Heroes Homecoming the largest commemoration and reunion of its kind in the nation, Meroski said.
“On a personal note, as the son of a soldier and relative and friend of many Vietnam veterans, it was one of the highlights of my eight years as mayor,” Chavonne said of Heroes Homecoming. He has shared many stories of that week in 2011 as he met people who had come from far and wide to be part of the commemoration. “On the day we erected the Moving Wall at the ASOM, I met a young lady who was standing alone watching the panels being erected,” he recalled.
“When I approached her, she told me the story of being in grade school at Fort Bragg when a military car pulled up in front and officers came in to tell her that her father had been killed. I stood with her that morning and was allowed to share the emotional moments of seeing the panel with her dad’s name.” Visit www.heroeshomecoming.com to learn more.