I was contacted by a woman on my Linkedin page who ask if I would be willing to publish a letter she addressed to Vietnam Veterans four years earlier. It was written while she accompanied her father on an Honor Flight to Washington DC, and she’s held on to it ever since. My colleague said that she has learned more about the war and its warriors through my website and she wants to dedicate it to me, and all Vietnam War brothers and sisters. The letter is unsigned as she wishes to remain anonymous.
Dear Vietnam Veteran:
Thank you. Whether you served in combat, or as a mess cook, or in the Medical Corps, in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines or the Coast Guard, thank you.
I grew up in the 1960s, graduating from high school in 1970, perhaps the height of the protests against the Vietnam War, and I was in college during some of the worst demonstrations of the era at the University of Minnesota. Though I never participated in any demonstration or outward protest, I was against the war, not believing all the policy decisions of the several Administrations were made with the real best interests of our country in mind, and not really understanding the philosophies of communism and socialism; in fact, there was a point where I thought that my family’s wealth ought to be shared, that no one really needed that much money.
Thank goodness, even then I was able to differentiate between policy and the soldiers, sailors and airmen carrying it out. I stood with classmates when others of our class came home from Vietnam, letting them know we knew them as people, and supported their families and friends when they came home to be buried in the small town cemeteries where we live. Both my mother and my father were Navy, my mother as a nurse, and my father as a water tender on board two different destroyers. Neither of them saw combat – they were just a little young – but they were close enough that I knew from their memories that Vietnam was different from WWII.
Although I wasn’t one of the demonstrators or protesters, I didn’t actually say “thank you” to anyone then, and I didn’t have the courage to defend you against my peers who jeered you when you came home. This letter is to say thank you, now, for your service, for your sacrifice then, and your continued sacrifice now. We did you a great disservice then, and I hope my words give you some small comfort now.
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