Sharpsburg couple honors Vietnam vets

By On July 19, 2018

Sharpsburg couple honors Vietnam vets

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Dwayne and Beth Harris, owners of Victory Garden Ranch in Sharpsburg, have been giving embroidered U.S. flags to Vietnam veterans for more than two years.

For more than two years, a local couple has been investing their own money to honor Vietnam veterans and provide them with part of the homecoming they never received.

Dwayne and Beth Harris, founders and directors of Come All Who Are Thirsty, a veterans group in Sharpsburg, distribute embroidered flags to Vietnam veterans. They have spent about $4,500 of their own money to purchase about 180 flags.

The couple recently applied for a grant from Home Depot of Hagerstown to purchase 200 flags. The company granted them $4,000.

The coupl e hopes the flags will contribute to "feelings of closure, healing, and appreciation that the Vietnam veterans have longed for, both immediately when they came home and for the past 54 years," Dwayne Harris said.

Recognizing veterans' sacrifices is personal for Dwayne and Beth Harris â€" the couple have almost 50 years of combined Army service.

Dwayne Harris said that in 2005, when he arrived in Bangor, Maine, at 2 a.m. after serving in Iraq, between 125 and 150 Vietnam veterans were waiting at the airport to welcome him home.

"It impacted me so much that I promised I would one day give back for them protecting my generation of veterans," he said.

On May 19, Come All Who Are Thirsty hosted a "Welcome Home" celebration for Vietnam veterans in Sharpsburg.

The nonprofit has been active since 2013 and serves military and first responders with the goal of preventing suicide. The couple personally knew eight soldiers and one former career firefighter who committed suicide, Dwayne Harris said.

Harris said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after service in Iraq and years as a career firefighter.

"What inspires me to just keep going is to let others know they are not alone in this fight and only have to make it through today," he said.

The couple owns Victory Garden Ranch in Sharpsburg, a gift shop that sells products made by veterans, first responders and their relatives. All profits are dedicated to Come All Who Are Thirsty.

In the past, Dwayne and Beth Harris have given flags to Vietnam veterans they encounter or who come to Victory Garden Ranch.

The couple hopes to make the store a distribution center for flags on Veterans Day this year, giving out flags, they said, "as a token of our appreciation for what [Vietnam veterans] have been through."

Stephanie Gemmell

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