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Gov. Schwarzenegger signs bill establishing day to honor Vietnam veterans

September 25, 2009 |  2:02 pm

Avoiding the embarrassment of what could have been the first successful veto override in California since 1979, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Friday that establishes an annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30.

Schwarzenegger had vetoed an identical bill earlier this month, saying it did not address high-priority needs including "comprehensive changes in our policies on water, energy, and corrections" and that he might reconsider the measure once legislators acted on those issues.

In response to the Sept. 8 veto, furious Assembly members, including Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), the bill’s author, threatened to override the governor and said they had the votes to do it.

Cook, a decorated Vietnam veteran, later met with Schwarzenegger and they agreed that Cook would introduce a new bill with the same language and the governor would approve it, even though the Legislature failed to adopt a comprehensive plan to improve the state’s water supply.

Schwarzenegger signed the bill today during a ceremony at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

"This was a highly politicized war," Cook said of Vietnam. "It still evokes strong feelings among veterans and people who disagreed with the U.S. policies at the time, but it is important that we set aside these differences to honor and thank the men and women who put on uniforms to preserve the freedoms we have today."

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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