Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


March 20, 2010

Is it 40 years too late?

Editorial for March 21, 2010

JACKSONVILLE — U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) recently introduced a resolution designating March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. What a great way to show our Vietnam veterans how proud we are of them. It’s about time.

But is it too little, too late?

When these boys came marching home, there was no fanfare, pats on the back or hoorahs for their safe return.

Instead they were spit on, jeered and berated.

They were called horrible names, like “babykiller,” and were blamed for a mess not of their own making.

They were drafted, most of them, or volunteers, and were sent at young ages to a foreign land, completely different than anything they had ever seen and will likely — hopefully — ever see again.

They were forced into appalling conditions and asked to do horrifying things that no 18, 19, 20 year old should be asked to do — and oh the sights and sounds that surrounded them every waking minute of the day and deep into the night.

Unless you were there, you will never imagine what they endured.

Thank God for that.

Many Vietnam veterans were scarred for life by their service — either literally with wounds to their flesh, or with scars to the psyche, unseen by others.

And for years since their return home, they have had to battle the nightmares and demons of what they saw in that awful land, then what they faced once they got home and realized their country did not just not support them, but in many cases hated them for their service.

And “forgive them for they know not what they do” didn’t help any of them at the time with the pain of being berated for their service — for doing their jobs, following orders and being good soldiers.

For many of these men, it is too late. They either do not want to hear it now because the wounds from that time are still not healed or the scars are just too deep, or they cannot hear it now because they have succumbed to an illness or wound as a result of their service.

One thing is for certain, though, it is about time these men were welcomed home and thanked for their service — they accepted their mission and fulfilled it to the best of their ability.

The highest honors and accolades can never repay them for what they did for their country.

But a simple “Welcome home, soldier. Good job,” might be the place to start.

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