As many of my readers know, I’m a proud veteran of the Vietnam War. Nowadays, veterans of all U.S. wars are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve as true heroes, but that wasn’t the case back then.
The Vietnam War was very unpopular, and the things that were said and done to me when I came back home after my service were horrible.
Today, however, Vietnam vets are given the respect they deserve. I know this first-hand because whenever I wear my Vietnam War baseball cap I get treated a lot different then 49 years ago. Strangers now come up to me and say “thank you for your service,” which always makes me feel great.
Of course, I can also tell who the draft dodgers were back in the day by the way some people look at me. Nowadays, however, they don’t have the nerve to say anything nasty to me.
Many of my high school classmates got married in order to avoid serving. Some are still married, but most aren’t.
In 1982, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was completed in Washington D.C. to honor those veterans who died during the war. Sadly, the names of veterans who are now dying from exposure to chemicals used during the war are not put on the wall. I think that’s wrong.
Another shameful fact is that, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly 22 veterans die by suicide every day. When will this problem be addressed?
Here are some more numbers from the Vietnam War:
• The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall has 58,267 names inscribed on it.
• Of those names, 39,996 were 22 years old or younger.
• More than 30,000 were only 18 years old, twelve were only 17 years old – and believe it or not – five were just 16 years old.
• There are three sets of fathers and sons on the wall.
• Thirty-one sets of parents lost two children in this war.
• A total of 997 men died the day they arrived in Vietnam, another 1,448 were killed on the last day of their tour.
• The names of eight women are also on the wall – all nurses.
• Of the 244 Medal of Honor recipients from Vietnam, 153 were killed there.
If you’ve visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, you may have noticed that the names on the wall are listed by the date these brave heroes were killed. Even though it was very hard for me to do, I have visited the wall twice so far and paid respects to the men I knew.
If you haven’t visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I recommend you do. Everyone should visit this two-acre site at least once, especially people in my age bracket and anyone else who has a veteran in their family.
If you can’t make it to D.C., there’s at least one replica that travels around the country. A few years ago it was at the South Florida Fair Grounds.
The next time you pass a veteran on the street, say “thank you for your service.” I promise it will make that person’s day.
Sometimes when I’m out for breakfast and I notice another vet, I’ll ask the waitress for his check. I never tell the vet I’m the one paying his bill, but sometimes the waitress will tell him. This makes my day.
Try doing it sometime, I’m sure you wont be sorry and you will make someone’s day.