Vietnam veteran Bud Nelson returned home in 1968, fresh off the Tet Offensive. Instead of a hero's welcome, he was greeted by a country of hostile demonstrators who opposed the war and the troops fighting it.
Nelson said he hopes present-day military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan don't get the same reception he did.
What: Annual Hometown Heroes Picnic
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Craig City Park
The event is free and open to the public. Lunch is provided. Community members are asked to take a dessert to share.
"My opinion is (supporting the troops) is what needs to happen," said Nelson, a Craig resident and commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265. "The idea of supporting the troops doesn't mean you have to support the policies of them being there.
"Whether we agree or not is really immaterial. We need to support them as Americans and as people."
Craig residents have an opportunity to do that this weekend during an event designed to pay homage to veterans of past and present.
The annual Hometown Heroes Picnic is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Craig City Park. The picnic is free and the public is invited to attend.
The Craig Daily Press sponsors the picnic, which is set for Armed Forces Day on Saturday. Other contributors include KRAI, Coca-Cola, City Market, the VFW, Elk's Lodge and American Legion.
Daily Press publisher Bryce Jacobson said the newspaper sponsors the picnic to show support for Moffat County's fallen soldiers, veterans who have returned to their hometown and those military personnel serving in the U.S. or overseas.
"We need to recognize them and their valiant efforts to protect our country," Jacobson said. "They deserve honor and respect. We hope this picnic proves to be one small way of giving them that."
Nelson will read his poetry, written during his 26 years of military service, and Daily Press editor Michelle Perry is slated to sing the national anthem. A table honoring all U.S. prisoners of war will also be set up at the picnic.
"This is in appreciation of the people who aren't there to share the meal with us on that day," Nelson said.
Community members are invited to eat hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans and cole slaw.
Attendees are asked to take a dessert to share.
For information on the picnic, call the VFW at 824-7145 or Craig Daily Press at 824-7031.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.