CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs put on the first of several “thank you” events to be held throughout the state this year for Vietnam veterans.

Aside from thanking the more than 125 Vietnam veterans who took park in this week’s event at the College of DuPage, those still listed as “missing in action” were remembered at the “Missing Man” table.


“We have an empty plate and then we have salt, which symbolizes something. We have a lemon, we have a rose on the table, we have a bow on the vase, we have a bible on the table,” said Harry Sawyer, the assistant director of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. “And with a chair folded up against the table showing that they’re just not there.”

One Vietnam veteran said he feels more respect now for his service than when he returned from the war.

“I wear my Vietnam veterans’ hat or my Air Force veterans’ hat, and I get ‘thank you’ at the ballpark all the time. It’s kind of neat; it’s a good feeling finally.”

Sawyer said he plans to stage one “thank you” event a month for the rest of the year. “We’re going to go to Aurora, I want to do one in Joliet, and then we’re going to work our way south to central Illinois and then southern Illinois.”

Vietnam veterans say Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have been better treated, in large part, because of the mistreatment they received.