I read a post this morning by Michael Thorton called The Ultimate Gift of Love which is about our need to remember those who have sacrified their lives for our freedoms. I believe this means not only those who sacrified by giving their lives in death, but those who have sacrified by serving their country when they could have chosen an easier path for their lives.
One of things Michael mentioned in his blog was the horrific treatment he, and other soldiers received upon their return from Vietnam. This has been on my mind all day. At the time the Vietnam war ended, returning soldiers were often confronted by protesters; some soldiers were attacked and some had urine thrown on them. They were spit upon and called psycho and baby killer and other derogatory terms. They weren’t welcomed with parades and smiles and standing ovations and parties.
These soldiers, many who left their homes in their late teens, quickly became men. They had to endure trials anyone who wasn’t there could have never imagined. I know a Vietnam vet who still struggles today with the horrors he was a part of 40 years ago, and I know he isn’t the only one. The soldiers who came back from that war were wounded, both physically or mentally, and instead of care and love and concern and respect, they were treated like garbage.
When I see stories today of soldiers who have performed some brave and selfless act, or of soldiers who lose their life and are greeted by lines of civilians paying their respect, or when I see a young man or young woman in uniform returning from some distant place where they served this country, I tear up. My heart is proud of them and for them. They are sacrificing in a way the other 99+% of us never will.
I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be one of those wounded warriers who returned from Vietnam to be humilitated. If we could rewrite history, we’d go back and do that entire time over, the right way. But we can’t do that. So all I can say, to any veteran who has been disrespected in such a manner, on behalf of those who participated in such behavior, I am sorry. The behavior you endured was shameful. You deserve our utmost respect, so thank you for all you have done for your Country.