As I get older, I appreciate and respect more and more our citizens who were in the military and protected the rest of us at great personal sacrifice to themselves and their families.
For the last several years, if I am able to recognize someone who served in the military, I try to thank them for their service. But when I find someone who served during Vietnam I not only thank them but I apologize to them also for how this country treated them when they returned. Vietnam vets have told me the same story again and again — they were spit on, hit, tripped, had obscenities screamed at them, and items thrown at them. Shame on us.
I tell them that people were not mad at them — they were taking their anger at the war and the administration out on them. Which was not fair or right — and little consolation for the men and women who went through it.
I think this country owes these Vietnam Vets an apology and by some means needs to give them the heroes’ welcome they deserved almost 50 years ago. Perhaps Cedar Rapids or Iowa needs to take the lead, with a declared day in their honor and a parade. Many of these soldiers are in their 60s and 70s. I don’t want them to die without hearing we appreciate them and honor them.