AUSTIN -- Vietnam veterans from every branch of the service were present at Monday's ceremony at the State Capitol. Among them was U.S. Army Veteran Jim Nottingham of Georgetown.
Nottingham didn't wait to be drafted, he volunteered.
"I was a grunt," he said. "I was there during the Tet Offensive. I went up Hill 875 which is pretty infamous now in Vietnam lore. It was a horrible experience."
Unlike Monday, Nottingham and many of his Vietnam veterans did not receive a ceremonial welcome home when they returned to this country after the conflict.
"When I came home I don't really know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting what I received, which was it was really bad," said Nottingham. "Many of us were scored when we came home. After the first Gulf War I watched a Schwarzkopf parade and the ticker tape in New York City and I just sat there and started crying because it was so different than what I received."
Nottingham spent a good bit of Monday's ceremony clutching the hand of his wife of 42 years, Carolyn.
"In the beginning years of our marriage he rarely ever talked about Vietnam," she said. "Veterans Day would hit him pretty hard, but otherwise I knew very little about what he went through. As the years have gone by though he's opened up more and more. I think it's part of the healing process."
"It's sort of a cleansing of all that," he said. "It's finally come. It means a tremendous amount. It's very gratifying and it really touches me."