Local Vietnam Veteran Honors Today's Iraq Vets
I'm proud today to bring you a human interest story that's touched me personally and will touch you as well. This is a short interview with a dear friend of mine whom I've been blessed to know and spend time with for the past few years. His name is Nick Parnello, he lives in Rockford, IL just like me, and he's a fellow activist.
Hickory Hills, IL –-(AmmoLand.com)- Nick is a friend and mentor for me. While I work to see that everyone has the right and ability to defend themselves from criminals, Nick works to see that veterans are honored for their service and sacrifice. Here is a story about Nick Parnello, a Vietnam Veteran.
Shaun: When did you serve in Vietnam?
Nick: I served in Vietnam from '68 to '69. I enlisted because I always wanted to get into aviation, and I served in the 4th Infantry division 4th aviation.
Shaun: How did you first become active with veterans?
Nick: I was leaving Vietnam, and some friends were throwing me a make-shift farewell party. By chance and luck I met up with an old friend from high school that night and we spent the entire night together. He was headed back into the field as I was headed out, and we promised each other that if we both made it out of the war alive, we would meet up in Rockford and have dinner.
We kept that promise, and when the war was over we had dinner. We wondered if there were other veterans in Rockford, and knew there must be, but we didn't know any. So we began meeting new veterans and even asking people “are you a veteran?” This started the small group we named VietNow where I served as founder and president from 79 to 82. I resigned in '82, but VietNow kept growing and became the second largest Vietnam veterans' organization in the country. The name VietNow means “this is Vietnam now” or in the present.
Shaun: Over the years of your involvement with veterans, what are you most proud of?
Nick: I also formed the Vietnam Veteran's Honor Society, and we've done our best over the years to remember our living and fallen heroes from Winnebago County, Illinois. We started in '89 and worked diligently. Our biggest accomplishment was the LZ Peace Memorial built in Rockford. It is a beautiful memorial with a wall for all of the men who gave their lives and served during the Vietnam war.
It's located at Midway Village museum/park in Rockford. There is a real Huey helicopter and everything. Stop by and take a moment to remember the vets if you can.
Nick Parnello (far right) with his Vietnam Veterans Honor Society friends at the Rockford LZ Peace Memorial.
Shaun: What projects are you working on now?
Nick: My main project right now is promoting a way to honor veterans from all wars.
Shaun: How did you get involved with this project?
Nick: On July 26, 2007, I and about twenty-two other war vets were blessed to welcome home about 130 Iraq war veterans at the Rockford, Illinois airport. I was overwhelmed with feelings, knowing the young and brave soldiers were just like us when we came back from the war, but they would only be home for while and then have to go back.
I talked to and hugged the soldiers, and I realized that we really didn't have anything to give them as a token for their service to all of us. I spent the next week thinking of ways to honor them, and I finally thought that a specially-designed pin could, with colorful symbols and words, say “Thank you for your service to our country.”
Shaun: How did you take this from just an idea and make it a reality for veterans?
Nick: I started with and focused on the design. I developed many designs over that next year, and with comments from other veterans and discussing many different ideas, it finally all came together and I arrived at the current design.
Vietnam Veterans Honor Society pin to honor veterans of all wars.
Shaun: What does the design signify?
Nick: The five large silver stars are for the branches of our armed services. The large black star in the center honors all of our POW, MIA, and KIA heroes.
I developed two different pins, because I wanted families and friends and everyone else to have a way to honor our veterans. There is the “Veterans” pin, and then there is “America Honors Our Veterans” pin.
Shaun: What is your ultimate goal with this project?
Nick: My hope is that more people will take the time to remember and honor those who fought for this country and those who still fight today. We fought for freedom then and will still fight if we have to. The ideals of freedom, liberty, and honor are sacred. Let's remember that and keep it sacred every day. Let us never take it for granted.
Shaun: Thank you, Nick, for everything you've done and continue to do for veterans. I know you've made a big difference in many lives.
Nick: Thank you, Shaun, for helping us spread the word and for everything you're doing with ICarry.org. Veterans remember the Second Amendment and will fight for it like all of our other freedoms. As a nation, we can't defend ourselves if the citizens aren't able to freely use and practice with firearms. I know we will see right-to-carry very soon in Illinois, and veterans are behind you!
We put nick's Veteran pin up for sale on the ICarry store to help him raise money for the Vietnam Veteran's Honor Society. They have been giving free pins away to veterans and families of veterans, and we think that's a great thing. They are out of the family pin right now, but have a limited number of Veteran pins in stock, so if you're interested act quickly. They're hoping to raise enough money to have more made before Christmas.
Thanks for taking the time to read the story and I hope you liked it. It was a real honor for me to do this and help my friend and other veterans.Stay safe, Shaun Kranish Founder, ICarry.org ICarry.org
1817 18th Avenue
Rockford, IL 61104, USA
ICarry.org, an organization devoted to to bringing concealed carry to Illinois and Wisconsin. The only two states without it. Visit: www.icarry.org