I was in my twenties during the Vietnam era. I was a single mother and, I'm sad to say, I was probably one of the most self-centered people on the planet. To be perfectly honest…I didn't care one way or the other about the war. All I cared about was me—how I looked, what I wore, and where I was going. I worked and I played. I was never politically involved in anything, but I allowed my opinions to be formed by the media. It happened without my ever being aware. I listened to the protest songs and I watched the six o'clock news and I listened to all the people who were talking. After awhile, I began to repeat their words and, if you were to ask me, I'd have told you I was against the war. It was very popular. Everyone was doing it, and we never saw what it was doing to our men. All we were shown was what they were doing to the people of Vietnam.
My brother joined the Navy and then he was sent to Vietnam. When he came home, I repeated the words to him. It surprised me at how angry he became. I hurt him very deeply and there were years of separation—not only of miles, but also of character. I didn't understand. In fact, I didn't understand anything until one day I opened my newspaper and saw the anguished face of a Vietnam veteran. The picture was taken at the opening of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. His countenance revealed the terrible burden of his soul. As I looked at his picture and his tears, I finally understood a tiny portion of what you had given for us and what we had done to you. I understood that I had been manipulated, but I also knew that I had failed to think for myself. It was like waking up out of a nightmare, except that the nightmare was real. I didn't know what to do.
One day about three years ago, I went to a member of the church I attended at that time, because he had served in Vietnam. I asked him if he had been in Vietnam, and he got a look on his face and said, "Yes." Then, I took his hand, looked him square in the face, and said, "Thank you for going." His jaw dropped, he got an amazed look on his face, and then he said, "No one has ever said that to me." He hugged me and I could see that he was about to get tears in his eyes.
It gave me an idea, because there is much more that needs to be said. How do we put into words…all the regret of so many years? I don't know, but when I have an opportunity, I take…so here goes. Have you been to Vietnam? If so, I have something I want to say to you—Thank you for going! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please forgive me for my insensitivity. I don't know how I could have been so blind, but I was. When I woke up, you were wounded and the damage was done, and I don't know how to fix it. I will never stop regretting my actions, and I will never let it happen again.
Please understand that I am speaking for the general public also. We know we blew it and we don't know how to make it up to you. We wish we had been there for you when you came home from Vietnam because you were a hero and you deserved better. Inside of you there is a pain that will never completely go away…and you know what? It's inside of us, too; because when we let you down, we hurt ourselves, too. We all know it…and we suffer guilt and we don't know what to do…so we cheer for our troops and write letters to "any soldier" and we hang out the yellow ribbons and fly the flag and we love America. We love you too, even if it doesn't feel like it to you. I know in my heart that, when we cheer wildly for our troops, part of the reason is trying to make up for Vietnam. And while it may work for us, it does nothing for you. We failed you. You didn't fail us, but we failed you and we lost our only chance to be grateful to you at the time when you needed and deserved it. We have disgraced ourselves and brought shame to our country. We did it and we need your forgiveness. Please say you will forgive us and please take your rightful place as heroes of our country. We have learned a terribly painful lesson at your expense and we don't know how to fix it.
From the heart, Julie Weaver 237 East Gatewood Circle, Burleson, Texas 76028-8948 (817) 295-6287 Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I was only on the coast of Nam on the USS Vernon County LST-1161 and it was a short stay. I had a brother in country for 18 months and he came home short a finger from a 50 cal and a damaged brain and soul. On my way to catch the ship in Japan and head to Diego Garcia I got to see first hand some of the dirtbags that thought like this lady and that was in 1971, I could not believe they were still around in Feb of 71 but they were. All of the guys I was with had at least one tour in Nam and a couple had 2 or more.
Anywho what I wanted to say here is she can't speak for the General Public because I still meet folks TODAY that blame the troops of that Era for a lot of things about that war (as the Government says "Police Action"). So as she can speak for HERSELF but not the "General Public" and for my Brother that is no longer with us I can say Thank You for the asking for forgivness. I believe he would, in fact, believe her. She just needs to know that there are still those that still believes what they said back then and even blame the troups of today for many of Americas ills. Like her I don't know how it can be fixed or if it is even possible to fix it anymore and frankly for me I just don't give a damn anymore. I have one son that is retired from the Marines and one son that is Active Duty Army and I am so damn proud of them both. They are serving or served during a very trying time. The Marine was in the Persian Gulf in support of Iraq and Afagan war 6 times with a Marine Corps Air Wing on the ship. I hope and pray every day that the Army son NEVER has to go to the Middle East at all and so far he has not had to go. He is changing jobs soon to being a Truck Driver in the Army and THAT scares the hell out of me because we all know that at some point they will have to have "BOOTS ON THE GROUND" in Iraq to fight ISIS if they ever want to win against that Terrorist Organization no matter what they say. Anywho I just wanted to tell this lady, Julie Weaver, that she can only speak for herself and not the General Public and her request for forgivness is accepted for my Brother. I was only on the coast of Nam and like I said for a very short time. When they told us to wear the Viet Nam Service Ribon I refused for a long time because I did not earn it in my mind and I still feel that way. I was finally threatened that if I did not wear it they would write me up for beiing out of Uniform So I wore it. From my side of the world THANK YOU all that served In Country Viet Nam and I hope you have found a way to deal with the demons that I KNOW are there. I salute you all.
Ron, Same here USS Meeker County:: LST 980 The USS Whetstone, 4 other ships, ending USS Gray taken out for reserve training / duty..!! A very Long--stay 26 years..!! Salute
I am an 80 year old woman who remembers this war well and I was in full support of all of you then and always. God Bless You all and Thank you all for your sacrifices as well as the sacrifices your sons are making.
Ron.......Most of us answered the call and did the best we could....none who served deserved the scorn of our countrymen nor do any now serving. To give the nation a blank check signed with our life escapes those who fail to vent their anger at the root of the issue or simply are displaying self-serving motivations.
I can only take Julie at her posted word.........she asks for forgiveness and I can do nothing less than honor her request. Christ speaks to those unwilling to forgive...
I do not wish to sound cruel, far from it, but I must be honest and speak from my heart - the one that was ripped apart by my own countrymen.
You asked that we forgive you for the terrible pain your actions caused us upon our return home after the Vietnam war. I don't feel that such a offer of forgiveness for which we will be rewarded with our rightful place as heroes of our country is a condition that I personally will accept.
My heart was torn apart. It remains torn apart and I don't ever see that mend taking place. I came home confused, disoriented and disgusted with what I saw in my home country. In fact I reinlisted to get away from here and go back to the far east where we were far better appreciated. Doing something good for others there felt good and eased the pain in my heart.
I am old now and many of my brothers who did not die on the battlefield have died at an alarming pace of numerous illnesses and diseases caused by the then secretive dioxin now known as Agent Orange. Many suffer from cancers, diabetes, heart diseases, parkinson's and any number of other bad things all related to what was sprayed on us and in our sources of drinking water - until we were almost to the man contaminated. Many of us have suffered disasterous effects of that exposure effecting even our offspring. My own daughter died as a newborn.
I remain bitter, even angry, but if my brothers ever call me to serve with them again for the cause of freedom I will venture forth willingly. You see, the going, the suffering and sacrifices in battle are with our own - those who would give their own lives for us, as we for them. That bond we do not have with the general citizenry in this once great nation.
We don't seek out the title of hero, simply the respect that we were among the few who were willing to serve our nation.
Julie, you inspired me to say what I haven't said since I returned some 47 years ago. I hope that having said what I have buried deep inside me will give me some peace before I die and that my brothers in arms will be further inspired that YES the life of a warrior is worth any burden when you know deep in your heart that you did the RIGHT thing to defend others who could not defend themselves - regardless of popular politics.
Rather than offer an apology for cruelty of days past, offer your time as a volunteer at a Veteran's Administration hospital. There you can offer each soldier, sailor, airman or Marine a friendly smile and thank you. Just being there for them when they are now sick or dying would mean much much more and perhaps wash away those memories of bad times long ago.
United States Marine until the day AFTER eternity !
Semper Fi brother, I think folks are a little late, which may be better than never, but only about a third of us who spent time(s) on the ground are still on this side of the grass; way too many of our brothers will have passed bearing the weight of having been ostracized, forgotten, lied to and denied by our government and uncaring civilians. I just avoid them as it is a waste of time trying to explain, too many decades have passed to get them up to speed. We are going down at a pretty good rate, another few decades and they won't have to let their collective conscious' be burdened.
JOHN, I'm living proof,;; the hospital file--report over `7 yrs ago, check-----out after 3 weeks 6/12/07 died 3 times, stroke, I expressed anger (out-of-it), placing my fingers to my mouth to smoke a Cig. raising my arm holding a bottle of beer, tipping it toward my mouth, screaming, Dr. told my wife, surgery complete, he was a real alcoholic, bi--opsy he breathed herb-sides / agent orange now pray he comes TO..!! My doctors submitted the proper paperwork for VA disability very fast, 100 % By the grace of God, a cross over my head, my pastor brother holding my hand~~I'm writing this today..!! Julie, yur in Texas, I'm in Mexifornia, and our Hearts touch, closer than anyone can believe..!!~~Amen
I was 12 years old when my oldest brother went to Nam. I looked out the living room window daily for him to return. While he was gone, he met and fell in love with his Vietnamese interpreter. They were to marry, and me and my mother wrote to her all the time and fell in love with her through letters. She sent us reams of silk and other gifts even though she was dirt poor. Later, I finally saw my brother come in through the front door, he looked good, but acted different: a little wilder than before. :) Finally, he found that he couldn't send for his love name Yen. We were all soooo sad, we wanted to meet her. Then, after a while, life got better for him, he married, then....life began spiraling......then spiraling some more......then he never went to his father's or his mother's funerals, and now only his good upbringing in the Lord will help him. Please pray for him.
I hurt for you and your brother Lady.........Can you give me a first name so I can pray for him personally...?
Hi Colonel! Thank you so much. He is a Jr., Henry M. Goff, Jr. and goes by "HANK." While you're at it, pray for me too, our mother just died last week and I buried her by myself this past Saturday! COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS. (For me too.) ;)
Your brother can call me at any time and perhaps we can talk to help ease his pain. Write me at email@example.com and I will give you my telephone number.
SEMPER FI is FOREVER !!!!!
Thank you. I will have to "find" his phone number first. :( But, when I do, I will. Thank you!