Call him a victim of inspiration or a legislator simply responding to the concerns of his constituents, freshman state Rep. Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi, is on a mission to ensure that Vietnam veterans receive the official recognition they have long been denied.
Fitzwater's crusade to honor veterans begins with the story of Tom Seematter, a Vietnam veteran from Annapolis, Mo., and a resident of Fitzwater's district.
"Tom drew a photo of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and submitted it for display in the Capitol," stated Fitzwater. "He brought some of his family up to see it on display and discovered it had been removed and placed in storage."
According to Fitzwater, the veteran decided to protest the removal of the artwork and to raise awareness of the service of Vietnam veterans by organizing a walk to the Capitol from his home in Annapolis.
Due to the inspiration of Seematter's walk - and stories of the Vietnam War shared by his friend John Harlow and other veterans encountered along the campaign trail - the fledgling legislator chose to honor the spirit of their service by sponsoring HB249.