Communication Builds Our Community

"Welcome Home" : Honoring Vietnam Veterans 50 Years Later Still the Right Thing to Do

Vietnam War ended for America 50 Years Ago This Week

Honoring those who have served to defend is a longstanding tradition in nations around the world, no less so in the United States. The freedoms we enjoy, so easily eroded from within, were also defended from foreign enemies by those who have donned the uniforms of our five branches of service.

March 31 marks the end of what is considered by many the saddest of America's military efforts. Tens of thousands died in the futile conflict, both military and civilian. Opposition to the war by the American public grew stronger each year of the decade-long effort.

More than a million American men and women crossed the Pacific to fight a war in opposition to a communist government, fearing a "domino effect" of toppling democracies if South Vietnam fell.

When the returning veterans arrived home at last, they were met, not by welcoming parades and thanks, but with scorn.

It was a response that was unjust.

Those veterans were not responsible for the decisions that led to the enormous waste of lives, money, and material. They were simply doing a job in the belief that it was their duty, the price they paid for the freedoms enjoyed by the families they left behind.

The toll the response took upon their lives has been enormous. Many, suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, failed to cope, leading hopeless lives dealing with depression. Many, now more than 70 years old, remain homeless.

It is long past time for healing. The dominos never fell. The greater threat in that region has been the rise of totalitarian and oppressive governments, such as in Myanmar. Vietnam is now an American ally as our nation faces new threats from an increasingly-militant China.

Yet many veterans still feel the pain of the cold reception they received more than 50 years ago.

The next time you encounter a veteran, please offer them a simple phrase. "Welcome Home."


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