I speak, as some of you know, at high schools to talk about the war and citizenship and our history to Juniors and Seniors. Kids from one of those classes wrote letters for Veterans Day to be read by veterans. I thought this one is special:
To whoever you may be, once were, or are now– hello to you all.
Where does a young person like me begin, really? I am so young, but my entire life has been filled with your history. My grandfather’s and great uncles fought among you, one even has his name on the Vietnam Memorial wall. Though I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that.
In this life, you have faced many trials. You left behind jobs, friends, families, wives and girlfriends, pets and cars, homes, and everything you held dear, in order to fight for this nation. This vast, beautiful nation that once held so much inner patriotism, that was not reignited until 9/11. You strong men, and women, all brave souls. No one, including yourselves, could have imagined what Vietnam held for you, or what awaited you when you came back.
Music, fashion, values, all seemed to change overnight, didn’t they?
Many of you, faced, and still face battles, both mental and physical that you carry with you, even to this day. When you returned home, you were not welcomed. There were no parades, no celebrations, no flowers thrown and flying banners like your fathers had received when returning from their wars. You received silence. Violent shouts in the dark of rage and ridicule from an American public who had no true idea of what was happening in Vietnam, or what you faced while there. You are not “murderers.” You are not “baby-killers.” You are not what they called you, when they saw you in uniform, or when they heard where you’d been and what you’d been doing. You, all of you, are strong men. Brothers forever, united by one struggle, and one goal to survive, to fight through hell and back. Even now the struggle continues. Communists and ignorant bigots who do not heed your warning, nor the warnings of your fathers. You are brave heroes. Strong warriors of this great nation. I am young, but I know who you are. I know what you are. You are kings of a great generation of fighting men, who did what they could to keep not only this country but the world free.
This Veterans Day, I want every face that turns your way, to smile with pride and joy, thankful to have great men like you. Husbands, fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, uncles, great uncles, and so on, you are all lords and kings, warriors and defenders for and of this great nation. Your memory will live on in our hearts and minds until the foundations of the earth are rotted away. Thank you all a million times over for your humble and selfless service. May God bless you all.
Sincerely, and will all the love in this world,
WELCOME HOME :]…
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