Rumor has it that the U.S. Senate has declared March 30, 2011, as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, to honor the 40th anniversary of the official withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from the Republic of Vietnam.
While to many this honorific comes 40 years too late, and from a source less than desirable, I say that we, the citizens of the United States, should take the opportunity of the belated recognition to express, again, what we have always felt; gratitude for what our nation’s best did for us. Duty called, and they answered resoundingly; fighting a tough war in a hellish environment against a determined and skilled foe. And they won, never once leaving the field of battle in defeat. In so doing they forged a legacy of valor and honor that my generation and my son’s generation stand in awe of. During my own service it was the goal of myself and every Marine I knew to live up to the standards they had set, to carry forward their legacy, and to make them half as proud of us as we were of them.
So allow me to again say to all of the veterans of the War in Southeast Asia, thank you, welcome home, job well done. And to offer my sincere apologies that an ungrateful nation has dishonored your sacrifice for far, far too long. God Bless You All.
I leave you with the words of Lt. Col. Carolyn Abell, US Army, Retired, lifted from an email sent to me by our esteemed LC Rurik, one of the vets so long deserving our thanks.
“*No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War.
It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many
people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their
misunderstanding been so tragic.”* – Richard Nixon from his book, “No More
Earlier this month the United States Senate declared March 30, 2011 as
“Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” This particular date was chosen because
on March 30, 1973, remaining U. S. troops withdrew from Vietnam under the
terms of the Treaty of Paris.
In a resolution introduced by Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and
co-sponsored by five other senators, including Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, the
Senate is encouraging Americans across the country to recognize Vietnam
veterans for their sacrifice and to make them feel the gratitude of a
country that sent them to fight. “It’s time they receive the recognition
they have earned and deserve,” declared Senator Burr.
While Richard Nixon might have had his faults as President, the above
statement about the Vietnam War is spot on. Largely due to intentional
misreporting by anti-war press members, a number of myths and falsehoods
were generated and have continued to be perpetuated about this war and the
men who fought it.
Statistical evidence contradicts most of these lies. For one, the majority
of Vietnam veterans declare they are glad they served (91percent), with74
percent saying they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
In contrast to the popular notion that a great number of Vietnam veterans
were drug users, a myth promoted by such movies as “Apocalypse Now,”
information from the Veterans’ Administration indicates that there is no
difference in drug usage between Vietnam veterans and non-veterans from the
same age group.
The few isolated atrocities committed by American servicemen were blown out
of proportion, causing the general public to wonder if they had evolved into
savage and inhumane beasts reminiscent of the degenerate boys in “Lord of
the Flies.” The truth is that while we had a few incidents, the North
Vietnamese routinely committed such atrocities against our side—a fact that
seldom got reported. Former service members such as Charles Henderson have
documented some of the most heinous acts of torture imaginable inflicted on
United States soldiers and Marines by a female North Vietnamese Captain,
whose cruel and deviant brutality earned her the nickname, “Apache Woman.”
Thanks to Carlos Hathcock, one of the most talented and self-disciplined
Marine snipers of all time, “Apache Woman” did not live to make Major.
A 97 percent rate of honorable discharges among Vietnam veterans should
quell any myths that they were largely lawless heathens.
According to a speech by Lt. Gen. Barry McCaffrey in 1993, 85 percent of
Vietnam veterans made a successful transition to civilian life. General
McCaffrey further stated that these veterans’ personal income levels
exceeded their non-veteran counterparts of the same age group by more than
18 percent. He added that Vietnam veterans had a lower unemployment rate
than the non-vet age group.
Another prevailing myth is that a disproportionate number of blacks were
killed in the Vietnam War. Statistical evidence shows that 86 percent of the
men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians. Only 12.5 percent were black, while
the remainder were “other races.” These percentages were in direct
proportion to general population statistics at that time.
A lot of people think, too, that the Vietnam War was fought by the poor and
uneducated. In actuality, these veterans were the best educated forces our
country had ever sent into combat, with 79 percent having at least a high
school diploma or equivalent. Many had taken some college courses or even
earned a degree.
The survival rate of Vietnam veterans was also much higher than in previous
wars, thanks largely to MEDEVAC helicopters. Pilots of these birds flew
nearly 500,000 missions, airlifting over 900,000 patients. The average time
lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a
result less than one percent of all American wounded who survived the first
24 hours, became fatalities.
Perhaps the highest testimonial to the quality of our Vietnam veterans, is
that so many former draft-dodgers and cowards now want to claim credit for
military service they never gave. And there is no greater insult to the ones
who actually served.
I think the average American appreciates the sacrifices of all veterans.
There is nothing more noble and honorable than serving one’s country in the
armed forces. Vietnam veterans answered the call to duty, and they continue
to serve today with acts of national patriotism, community involvement and
serving in elected offices.
Make it a point this Wednesday to thank a Vietnam veteran. Tell him “Welcome
My goal is to preserve the memories of men who died too young—who gave all
they could give for a cause they believed in. It is because of them that I
sit here in a land of freedom and plenty. May they never be forgotten!