SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Nearly 50 years after the United States ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, South Dakota veterans are being honored for their service.

Vietnam Veterans and their families packed the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls today, with Congressman Dusty Johnson leading a Pinning Ceremony.

“More than 600 veterans have taken part in ceremonies like this we’ve done across the state and it is amazing how much it means to these veterans, it’s amazing how much it means to me, it’s among the most meaningful things that I get to do,” Congressman Dusty Johnson said.

More than 60 veterans were awarded a lapel pin with the message ‘A grateful nation thanks and honors you’ written on the back.

“I’ve talked to some who said serving their country in uniform was the greatest thing they’ve ever done, others said their service in Vietnam was the worst thing that ever happened to them. That’s part of why these ceremonies are so important for us to actually hear these stories and get a sense of what service is like,” Johnson said.

“We felt like it was our duty, we went and we served and we came home,” Sioux Falls Veteran Jim Cannon said.

Jim Cannon spent six years in the Navy, including two cruises of seven months each in Vietnam. The first time he heard ‘thank you for your service’ was in 1996.

“It’s nice to have that recognition, probably the biggest thing of it all,” Cannon said.

“I was lucky, I was from a small town in North Dakota so when I came home I didn’t get some of the negative things that went on in the larger communities,” Worthing Veteran Steve Johnson said.

Steve Johnson spent a year in Vietnam in the early 1970s. He now resides in Worthing and is grateful for today’s ceremony.

“When you leave your family you don’t know what you’re getting into and if you’re going to get home or not, so this is appreciated by all of us,” Johnson said.

Every branch of the military except the Coast Guard and Space Force was represented at today’s ceremony.