- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he is supporting an effort to honor U.S. veterans who fought in Vietnam a half century ago by raising money to give each of them a commemorative book.

He said the book will recognize those who often were not appreciated when they returned home.

“We did not properly honor their service,” Bryant said Wednesday at the Capitol, where he was joined by several veterans. “We did not recognize … their dedication, their courage, their commitment to the war in Vietnam. We have learned our lesson. It is time for us to thank all those that served, and those that did not return.”

The book, “A Time to Honor,” is being written by a company called Remember My Service Productions, with help from Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Library of Congress and other groups.

Randy Reeves, director of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board, said 65,000 Vietnam veterans live in the state. Bryant said the book will cost $10, so the goal is to raise $650,000 by November.

Chuck Holifield, outreach coordinator for the board, says donations specified for the book project should go to Friends of Mississippi Veterans , a nonprofit group.

Holifield said the Veterans Affairs Board researched the company writing the book and considers it trustworthy.

Sharlene Hawkes - who was Miss America 1985 - is president of Remember My Service Productions. She attended the news conference Wednesday in Jackson and said Mississippi joins about eight other states in what she intends to be a nationwide effort to commemorate Vietnam veterans.

“We didn’t do it right 50 years ago,” Hawkes said. “We have to get it right now.”

State Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, fought in the Army in Vietnam in 1970 and said people didn’t want to talk about the war when he and other veterans returned.

“Folks kind of resented us for having gone, it seemed like,” Simmons said.

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