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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- In a ceremony many called long overdue, hundreds gathered at the First Baptist Church of Columbia to honor South Carolina's Vietnam War era veterans.

It is an acknowledgement that many say it felt good to finally receive.

"It's kinda hard to hold the tears back it's very touching," said Army veteran George Culler.

"This is the first time that I can recall, that Vietnam veterans themselves have ever been recognized in any format. We've been recognized along with others, but as a single recognition, this is the first time," said Paul Allen an Air Force veteran.

Veterans from across South Carolina were celebrated for the sacrifices they made and the gratitude they never received.

"I spent years denying that I was even in the service because it was an embarrassment people looked down on us," said Navy veteran Ed Gohn.

"When I came home, I came home at midnight, and I've never been welcomed home," said Allen.

"It was a different type of homecoming, we were called all kinds of names, baby killers, and all we did was what we had to do to serve our country and try to stay alive," described Culler.

Medal of Honor recipient Major General James Livingston spoke to the crowd.

"You served because you believed in this country we call the U.S.A. and you'd do it again. There's no doubt in my mind," said Livingston.

Senator Tim Scott, whose office coordinated the event, told the young people in the audience that they should look to the men and women who served as heroes.

"There's no doubt that you can find a hero in perhaps sports or entertainment, or politics every blue moon, but the fact of the matter is if you're looking for a true American hero, look at someone who put on a uniform, who left their country, left their family, left their friends, to serve the concept, the cause of freedom, and liberty all over the world and that's what the picture of what a true American hero looks like," said Scott, a South Carolina Republican.

Sen. Scott is up for election this fall. He will face petition candidate Brandon Armstrong, Democrat Joyce Dickerson and American Party candidate Jill Bossi.

For those honored for their sacrifices and service so many years ago, the day was a welcome tribute.

"I think this is the best thing that could happen, and to me, I think better late than never," said Culler.

More than 2,500 hundred people attended the event, with more than 1,400 hundred Vietnam veterans honored.

Each veteran received a congressional certificate and pin.

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