VietNow National Convention to be held next week in Cape

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

About 150 U.S. military veterans are expected in Cape Girardeau next week for the VietNow National Convention.

The convention is the 23rd annual gathering of VietNow, an Illinois-based organization for veterans who served from 1957 to present. The local Trail of Tears chapter is hosting the event, which runs from May 29 to June 1. Members from across the country are meeting at the Drury Lodge to elect national officers and review the organization's bylaws.

"It's [also] a time for comradery and getting together with other veterans," said Rodger Brown, president of the Trail of Tears chapter.

Members will tour downtown Cape Girardeau, the Stars and Stripes Museum in Bloomfield, Mo., and River Ridge Winery in Commerce, Mo. Sarah Vickery of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau said the event will be the first national convention of veterans in the city since the 1950s. Brown first contacted Vickery almost a year ago to discuss hosting the 2008 convention in Cape Girardeau.

An awards ceremony during the convention will recognize the group's volunteer of the year and other achievements.

VietNow has about 20 chapters from Florida to California, but the majority are in the Midwest, Brown said. The organization works on behalf of veterans issues and represents veterans at parades and other events.

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