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: email@example.com
I was born just short by 2 years to land in Vietnam myself, but my bother and cousin land in Vietnam in 1968. My bother was shot in the head and still has problems until this very day and my cousin just lost it all together. Last I heard he was behind bars, but that was many years ago. Our boys that landed in Country need our respect and our promise to never forget. My father fought in WWII as well, and neither one will talk about their experience in either War. I see what they went through effected them at such a deep level words cannot explain what they had gone through. Our Nation is going into such a trying time once again and I can only hope we have enough people left with the same courage as the Men that fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars...We need them now more than ever or our Nation, as we know it, will be gone forever. God bless all that have severed.
Now THIS is a letter that I can accept as being heartfelt, honest and with compassion for all of my brothers.
No ass-kissing former liberal now feeling guilty type of gibberish.
THANK YOU SIR, It was my pleasure to serve OUR country!
I recall reading a book once about how America treats those who served in our armed fores. It seems as a nation we have always --since the Civil war anyhow talked about treating our veterans better. It was after the Civil War the first soldiers homes were built.And Decoration Day became a day set aside for decorating the graves of our fallen soldiers. History of the Veterans Administration Hospitals seems reflect that -- But I've not studied any of this enough to do more than muddle through. My point is I've always been drawn to the verse ( I think originated around WWI) "God and the soldier all men adore In time of trouble then no more When the shooting is over and all things are righted God is forgotten and the soldier is slighted. " In many ways since the Civil War we've talked much about how we ought to do more . And there have been some attempts. Some serious some just progressive feel good pap intended to allow politicians to say they've done something. Point is as with all things like that old song says You've got to walk that lonesome valley you've got to walk it by yourself.Nobody else can walk it for you. You've got to walk it by yourself.My point is from the moment we are weaned from our mother's breast whatever happens good ,bad-or whatever is our choice. The world owes the Veteran nothing. And ought do nothing for him beyond expecting him to ruck up and soldier on.
The world owes the Veteran for the freedoms they enjoy!
If you disagree then I suggest you don't deserve those freedoms.
Veteran's had a purpose - to defend those who could not defend themselves and to liberate those who were oppressed. For that spirit of honor and courage - you sir should be thankful.
Perhaps you should take a tour of hospital wards at our Veteran's Hospitals and see what these men endured for your right to say "The world owes the Veteran nothing." I dare say you would not say that out loud to those men.
""The world owes the Veteran nothing. And ought do nothing for him beyond expecting him to ruck up and soldier on.""
The soldier is injured in battle. He signed up for duty. He knows there are risks and yet he signs up. He would prefer not to fight but does because he has a belief to honor. A duty to help defend those in need. He would prefer to live his life with his family. He does not want to injured or killed. But he puts his life on hold.
Now you say the veteran is owed nothing!? This veteran is what stopped the march of tyranny. WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, ISIS all of these wars , and more, were fought to defend.
I think we do not begin to pay back what is truly owed.
Three responses-since Dec.7-- The number of others who were offended --but not enough to speak unknown. I enlisted in the summer of 69--And back then we were taught we were accountable for our own actions.We were told what a grateful nation would give us for our service . ... who built that Wall in D.C.? was it built by those who spat on us--called us baby killers--and everything else but honorable-- or was it built by our own? I have no beggars bowl .I take what has been given --I fought for years to get what was fair-what was promised. And maybe I am not deserving. I enlisted-- I went where I was sent--Never went AWOL but when I walked into a reduction in rank-- I fought to get what the Army said was my right--and I chose not to re-up -but honored my promise to myself in 69.No body owes me anything I was not forced to enlist.Most of my life what has been done to me or for me--was result of my choice to be where I was at that time I ask nobody to follow where I choose to go .I ask none to agree with me -for I am often wrong--and sometimes --sometimes I say things to watch the response.At the least there are three I am dam happy are there -for they were not afraid to speak.
And i thank God there are still those who so do.
I'm offended people are offended by veterans. Starting around 1776.
Probably those thankless people will not be around to make trouble in Heaven.
We agree,Sir, in this. When I separated in 77 two class of people accepted me as I am --other veterans-- and bikers. I have isolated myself from everyone I believe our Government as it now exists would attempt to use my opinion to paint other veterans.They have done it with others-why not me.I speak for no-one but myself. But I speak.
As to your second comment There could be no justice in heaven if there were those allowed to cause divisions by their petty offense-and thanklessness.
As a disabled vet-who spent his time in service as a Medic -and who would happily spend the rest of my life doing the same I know what I owe others --No-one can tell me that. I notice Jean you attach a photo of our Flag inverted.....I once got kicked from the quire of the church we belonged to for wearing a flag patch inverted -an unusually good Liar -and draft dodger named Clinton was putting the Country through a lot of turmoil because he lied about sex and was protected . I offended a lot of people too timid to ask why my flag was inverted. Well I settled that I no longer post the colors. My country has chosen to die by suicide. A multiple tour vet with a drinking problem once called to say he was going to be checking out. HE didn't understand me at the time when I told him I would not send flowers--nor attend his funeral --I don't attend funerals -especially those of fools who commit suicide.The same for a Nation as for a man.Oh my friend did not die--but he has changed his religion.
What a Vietnam vet told was that they were told agent orange was harmless and it was OK to rub it on their skin.
He also mentioned agent red, yellow, blue etc. We did not hear about that in the states.
I have seen pictures of the children born with deformities. 40 years after the end of the war and they still are suffering.
Robert James Burkholder's comment that "The world owes the Veteran nothing. And ought do nothing for him beyond expecting him to ruck up and soldier on." .... is the source of dissention in this column.
That statement was thoughtless and pissed me off to the extreme.
That being said, I believe Burkholder has attempted to tone down his comment by adding his personal military experience. Well, that didn't work for me Burkholder so I suggest you think before you post.
I will take his remarks as "babblings".
Those who were offended were rightfully offended by his statement.