Becker Man Thanking Vietnam Veterans with a Special Plaque
BECKER - A Becker man has made it his mission to thank Minnesota's Vietnam War veterans one man at a time. Wherever Roger Bigalke goes he carries a bag of plaques. They're in the shape of the state of Minnesota, with the words "You served with honor. Welcome home."
Wherever I'm at I have this green bag with me, and I have plaques in there. The easy ones are the Vietnam vets with the hats on them. I go up to them and I stick out my hand and I tell them "welcome home" and I hand them a plaque.
While some of the veterans he randomly finds when he's out shopping, others are planned meetings by veteran's family members.
I'll let them talk, and sometimes they'll talk about Vietnam, sometimes they'll just talk about their family and loved ones. They let me know when they're ready to leave. Sometimes we hug, and then I give them a plaque and they go their way and I go my way.
Bigalke says he's handed out over 230 of these plaques so far.
It all started last fall when the Becker Beyond The Yellow Ribbon committee held a welcome home event in September. They awarded 75 of these plaques at that event, and Bigalke says he didn't want it to end there.
He says the reactions he gets from the veterans range anywhere from tears to hugs.
He says he is accepting donations to help make more plaques, which cost $13 each. Bigalke pays for all of his other expenses.
Donations can be sent to the Becker American Legion, or to Bigalke's home address:
13131 Brenda Boulevard
Becker, MN 55308