Vietnam veterans waited 30 years or more to hear those words, “welcome Home”.
In 2017, our nation signed into law The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act and March 29, became a national holiday. This special day recognizes veterans who served in the US military during the Vietnam War. March 29, was the chosen date because, on that date in the year 1973, the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam along with the last prisoners of war held in North Vietnam.
In the 21 years of fighting in Vietnam, 58,318 Americans paid the ultimate price. Imagine the city of Lansing, which has a population of approximately 114,000 (2010 data) loosing 50 % of the lives in that city.
Today it is estimated that over 850,000 Americans served during the Vietnam War between 1954 and 1975 - on land, sea and in the air - are still living. These are men and women we work with, neighbor with and often simply pass by every day on the street.
Most Vietnam vets did not share their experiences with civilians for fear of ridicule and abuse. Most of the country felt that all wars should end like WW2, with big-city parades, flags waving and large crowds welcoming home their heroes. This was not the case for Vietnam veterans.
However, as an outlet, vets shared stories with other vets. Together, they could relate to most experiences and often brought comfort. Yes, all too often, conversations brought back memories and scars not visible to most. As time went on, the nightmares became a part of their life and most have learned to deal with it.
Every military veteran set aside their life to defend our flag and the freedom it represents. They did it without any hesitation or regrets. Some were drafted and some enlisted. In all cases, the young men and women went to war for duty and honor. All contributed to the cause that makes our country the land of the free and the home of the brave.
So, the next time you see a veteran of the military, take the time to thank them for their service and welcome them home. Vietnam veterans are now the old veterans; we must set an example for our young generation to appreciate those who have served. As a nation, let us never again treat a warrior to the disrespect and insults that most Vietnam vets experienced when they came home.
To all our brothers and sisters of the military, “welcome home and thank you for your service”.
With sincere gratitude to our nation’s veterans,
William T. Almy – Commander
VFW Post 4090