I remember as a child my uncles coming to say goodbye to us as they went off to Vietnam. They left on separate occasions and I remember little of the details, however; I recall I was young and knew nothing of the politics or protests of the time. I felt scared for my Uncles as they went off to this foreign place so far away. It scared me to think of what might happen to them; that I may never see them again. They didn’t seem that old as it was. How could they be old enough to go to war? I thought. I guess the government had not considered that.
How foolish we are as children. I guess the government didn’t think of that. As an adult, I laugh at that reasoning; the reasoning of a child not yet of school age. I realize and have for a long time now that war waits for no man, not even a young man, a boy really. As we’ve seen in the wars of the world overseas and here at home, no one considers age and wisdom are when they decide that people should sacrifice their lives for a belief or ideal. It is a shame that in the instance of my uncles and hundreds of thousands of others the war our government sent them to fight was one of futile insignificance.
Our government sent our young men off to a place that many consider beautiful today, but was once a place of death and destruction. So many men have given so much of themselves for a cause that had no relevance to us. Oh, I know communism was the cause, yet now that little country is no threat to us. Sometimes I think our government has such a desire to share what we have they fail to see the forest through the trees. Just because it is what we want and have worked so hard to attain, and just because it may be what another people in other countries want doesn’t mean they are ready for it. Our forefathers were ready. They had had enough and wanted something better. I do not believe the people of South Vietnam (so-called at the time) were ready for independence and freedom. They were not ready to do it on their own, so they were not ready for the responsibility that freedom brings.
Our family was fortunate. Both my uncles came home physically unharmed though I would never know if there was any emotional scarring. I only knew years later that one of my uncles received the Bronze Star for valor. He has since passed away and he never mentioned it, never spoke of his heroism. I do not know why, maybe because of the stigma attached to that police action, maybe he wanted to forget. I will never know.
For many years I pondered this dilemma and the degradation of our men and women who struggled with the stigma of being inhumane and for putting so many people in harm's way. While, right here the same people who criticized and ridiculed those men and women were doing the same thing in their own way. Yes, there were many peaceful protests yet in other areas, we saw violence and chaos. Some violence caused by our government, but our young people protesting in the streets inflicted even more. Now if you think about it they were no better than the men who went off to fight.
It is now many years later and the war, conflict or police action in question still haunts our minds and hearts as we continue to help the world in their desire for freedom. We now use Vietnam as an example. We use it as a learning experience hoping we don’t repeat our mistakes of the past, somehow what I see today just shows we have not learned enough.
For years I have remembered and wondered and hoped. As an adult with the past being brought back to visit or haunt us, I recall all these feelings and am compelled to defend these men and women. I feel a desire to honor and respect them in a time when as we continue to fight the world's battles, to give credit to our military who our government once denied because of the stigma placed by not only protesters but the press who sensationalized and promoted the war at home while making our military out to be the enemy.
I hope to pay tribute to our brave men and women who stood up and did their duty to their county when it was not popular to do so. To my uncles, their friends, the husbands, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, and daughters who were not only brave to fight the enemy overseas but also braved enough to face the enemy at home not only on their return but for many years after. A million times I thank you and I have unlimited amounts of respect for each you. It may be many years later, but it is heartfelt and though I may have been too young at the time to realize the consequence of our government's actions I am sorry for all you have lost over the years and I pray, you may have been able to find peace in your lives today.