Vietnam vets rejected by nation that sent them
This Veterans Day, I would like to give a great thanks to all my brothers of the Vietnam War for their vigilance and perseverance against odds that were almost impossible to overcome.
Never in American history, perhaps never in all the western civilization, has any army suffered such an agony from its own people.
The returning soldier was greeted by a hostile environment in which he was ashamed to even wear the uniform and decorations that became such a vital part of who he was.
Even the 20-year-late Vietnam Veterans Memorial had to be constructed in the face of the same indignity and misunderstanding that the veterans had endured so long.
Initially, the memorial was not to have a flag and statue traditionally associated with such edifices. Instead, the monument to our nations longest war was going to be just a “Black Gash of Shame” with the names of the fallen engraved upon it.
It was only after a long and bitter battle that the veterans’ groups were able to get a flagpole flying the U.S. flag and a statue added to their memorial.
The war would be hard to imagine now. Teenagers were leading teenagers in a war of endless, small-unit operations, trapped together in a real-world re-enactment of the “Lord of the Flies” with guns.
It was destined to internalize the horrors of combat during one of the most vulnerable and susceptible stages of life.
There were no real lines of demarcation, and just about any area was subject to attack. The endless war had a constant flow of troops in and out of the country and the only observable outcome was a production of maimed, crippled bodies and countless corpses.
John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “Now the trumpet summons us to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.”
Exactly twelve years later, in January 1973, an agreement signed in Paris would end the war. U.S. military efforts would go unwon. The trumpet would be silent, the mood sullen. The United States of America would no longer be willing to pay the price.
In a rush to forget the debacle, America found it necessary to conjure up a scapegoat and transferred the heavy burden of blame to the shoulders of the Vietnam Veterans.
It’s been a difficult weight to carry. Rejected by the nation that sent us to war!
Gregory T. Dodd
3108 South Hwy. 36
Milano, TX 76556