Vietnam vets finally welcomed home

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On March 7, the United States Senate unanimously approved SR 55 sponsored by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) setting aside March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

On March 30, 1973, all U.S. combat and combat support forces pulled out of Vietnam in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. U.S. veterans of Vietnam returned to a country politically divided and bitter.

A companion bill in the U.S. House, HR 184, is now before the House sponsored by U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sanches (D-Calif.) to achieve the same result.

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During the last few years of the war, our service men and women were subjected to verbal insults, jeers and even spat upon arriving back after serving their tours of duty in Vietnam. They were called baby killers, assassins, dope addicts and pawns of the government to name just a few.

Although it was a vocal minority that demonstrated and carried out these acts of harassment of our brave troops, it left an indelible blemish on that period of our history.

It was inexcusable, ugly, disgraceful and un-American of those who engaged in this rude, disrespectful behavior. Instead of directing their frustration toward four (1961-1975) different presidential administrations, they chose to take it out on those sworn to defend and protect them. At least, those who served didn’t dodge the draft, run to Canada or turn their backs on our country. They served with honor, courage and dignity.

After the war, there was no welcome home for the troops as was the case in other wars. Most went about the tedious task of trying to put their lives back together in a hostile and bitter society that looked upon the war as having been lost. In fact, it had been lost, but not by our brave service personnel on the battlefield. It has been lost in Washington, D.C. by politicians from four different administrations and public opinion polls.

Arguably, it was a war we should have never been in to begin with, but it wasn’t the fault of our service members. They performed as they have always, above and beyond the call of duty.

They were due the respect and admiration of a grateful nation upon their return, which they did not get.

Although the welcome home is 38 years late, it is a nice gesture of trying to make amends for transgressions of the past. But, I’m not sure whether those subjected to the despicable behavior will ever be able to completely erase the emotional trauma inflicted upon them.