AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — It was a moment 40 years in the making.
“It was important for me to be here, not just for my fellow veterans, but for all those Vietnam veterans who never got a chance to come home and see a ceremony like this,” said Douglas Hastings, a Vietnam Veteran and Director of the “Vets To Washington” Project that seeks to take every veteran living in Georgia or South Carolina to see the memorials in Washington dedicated to their service.
From now on, the stretch of Gordon Highway from Bobby Jones Expressway to Jimmy Dyess Parkway will be known as Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway.
“It’s for all the Vietnam veterans and especially those on the (Vietnam) Wall,” said fellow veteran LeRoy Buckmore. “This was theirs. They should have got this a long time ago.”
Dennis Dupuis was the guest speaker at Wednesday morning’s dedication ceremony. He served with distinction during the War as a combat helicopter pilot.
“Hopefully when people see these signs they’ll think of a veteran, or think of all of them, and that will give some recognition to the guys that aren’t wearing a hat, and they’ll feel welcome home,” DuPuis said after the ceremony.
A welcome home 40 years later, but better late than never.
“When you think that veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 22 a day, we need to let them know that we care about their service, we care about the freedom they gave us, we appreciate it and that we intend to honor them,” Hastings said.
You can see the two signs as you turn right out of Gate 1 at Fort Gordon onto Gordon Highway or as you merge from Bobby Jones Expressway onto Gordon Highway headed toward the Fort. The signs were paid for by the Georgia Department of Transportation as part of a larger bill that passed the legislature this year.
WEB EXTRA: See Dennis DuPuis’s emotional speech at the dedication ceremony in its entirety by clicking below: