It has been 50 years in the waiting, but with something as good as this, it is never too late. For the veterans of the Vietnam War, the words “Welcome Home” were rarely, if ever, heard from the society that they suffered and sacrificed for so courageously and so well. Though they are entering their senior years now and the war is 5 decades in the past, this ceremony held on an Army base in Georgia this past 4th of July weekend was the fulfillment of a long awaited need.
The Vietnam War lasted 10 years, and was fought with great determination and success on the part of those who met the enemy on the field of battle, in the jungles and paddy fields of Vietnam. The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that fought against a determined and committed enemy had won every major engagement and most of the smaller ones hands down. There are those who would say we lost that war, but it was not our fighting forces that “lost” the war, it was the press, the Congress, and the inability of the American people back home to sustain the effort that lost that war.
One of the greatest ironies was that those who fought the good fight, who sacrificed and suffered on behalf of the nation, were ultimately blamed for both the war and its supposed loss. They lost nothing. They proved their valor and their skills whenever and wherever they were needed or were called into action. But on their return home, rather than a warm welcome, they were often treated with derision, scorn and rejection.
The majority of them proved the depth of their character by going on with their lives, even though they had to struggle with undiagnosed PTSD, and Agent Orange related issues for many years before the Department of Defense, the VA, and the Congress even began to take some responsibility for their care.
And much more remains to be done by the DOD, the VA, and The People.
But these warriors carried on, became valued and productive citizens in their many chosen fields. They married and raised families and contributed to the society that had so often rejected them. Still, there was always that deep sense of loss, that nagging hurt that came from their “homecoming” experiences.
Over the years, here and there, in small towns and local celebrations, these warriors have begun to experience the fulfillment of that old longing in events like this one in Georgia. We here at The Veterans Site wish to extend our “Welcome Home” to all those who fought so well, so hard, and so effectively on our behalf those many years ago. Your heroism, your suffering and your sacrifices deserve our attention and our thanks.