This year marks the official 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Most Americans will never know and others have no factual knowledge of the war that cost thousands of American lives over a period spanning more than a decade.
Any truthful historical assessment of the Vietnam War including that of Communist leaders has concluded that the war was won by the United States military with assistance of allies. They also concluded that the victory was forfeited and lost by the United States Congress and the liberal media. Politicians were influenced by the Communist sympathizers operating on college campuses and Communist sympathizers inside the government as well as influential voices in the media.
The aging Vietnam Veterans who spent decades trying to forget their unpleasant experiences will never forget their service, the sacrifice of their families, the ultimate sacrifices of their comrades in arms and the ungrateful nation that failed to welcome them home. Most suffered in silence, not acknowledging what is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms. The wounded were patched up, discharged from active service and sent home to mostly fend for themselves.
In those days there was no “Wounded Warriors” organization or urgency to improve the Veterans Administration (VA). Unless there was a strong family bond, the Vietnam Veteran became a lonely individual indeed and many were classified as “homeless.”
Returning Vietnam Veterans who sought fellowship with other veterans by joining the American Legion or other similar organizations soon found that the leaders in some of them openly discriminated against Vietnam Veterans and did not consider them to have fought in a “real” war.
The Communist sympathizers and terrorists of the 1960s who assaulted soldiers, burned federal buildings, destroyed private property and undermined the war effort went mostly unpunished. They are now members of congress, presidential appointees in top-level positions in the Obama Administration, top executives in media and industry and tenured professors in universities. Bill Ayers and Jane Fonda are two of the more notorious terrorists and Communist sympathizers living among the privileged and continuing to undermine the Constitution of the United States and encourage mischief.
After five decades, the fact that a high percentage of the 22 veterans that commit suicide each day are Vietnam veterans goes unnoticed by most of their fellow Americans.
On a personal note, my mother who lived to be 93 never understood why I would not discuss my military service after I retired and I never explained why. Only Vietnam Vets would understand.
In early 1969 a battalion commander I knew was killed in a helicopter accident. The previous commander of the unit, Lt. Col. Don Wilkerson, an officer I served with in Bremerhaven, Germany and Vietnam was on the same aircraft and witnessed the tragic accident. Don volunteered to escort the body of his friend back to Pennsylvania. When he returned to Vietnam, he emotionally confided in me that, “I will never do that again.”
The family and friends of his deceased friend were very opposed to the Vietnam War and were very hostile and unfriendly to Don. He said that except for his duty requirement and loyalty to his friend, he would have walked away as soon as he was met with hostility. His experience was far too typical.
Vietnam Veterans in Greenville County are fortunate. There is an active chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) that they may join. In addition, the newly formed American Legion Post 214 named for Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr., hero of the Cuban Missile Crises, welcomes all veterans, including those who served in Vietnam.
The VVA is erecting memorials and reminders across the nation of the role of Americans in attempting to preserve the freedom of the Vietnamese people as promised by our government. Timing is of importance, because the vets are aging and when the last one dies, the organization will exist no more.