Open Letter To Vietnam Vets and How It Applies Today
February 23, 2008
During the Vietnam War, I was in Junior High and High School. I remember watching television and seeing people protesting our Troops and thinking how horribly those people were treating them. In the small town I grew up in, you didn’t see the protests happening, but you could watch the cold shoulder that our returning warriors got when they came back home. Even back then, the media, as they do today, made it a point to concentrate on negative things and never once tell about the countless people our Troops went out of their way to help.
When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started, one of the first things that came out of my mouth, was that I would do everything in my power to ensure that our newest generation of warriors NEVER had to experience the hatred and degredation, that our Vietnam Veterans did, at the hands of their fellow Americans. I was already involved in Troop Support activities at the time, but got even more involved, because I wanted to make sure that our warriors knew from me that they are appreciated and supported for their sacrifices and for their service. I don’t hesitate to tell our current generation of Soldiers or our Vietnam Vets, that I appreciate their service and I know what they’ve sacrificed for our Country. I won’t stop doing that, not now or ever.
Even now the media goes out of their way to paint a negative spin on events occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can’t stand to watch the news because of this, and it’s rare that I’ll set down in front of the television for more than a couple of minutes because of this. The folks in the media are well aware of the gullibility of the American public. They know that the majority of the American people will believe what they hear on television, consider it gospel and never check into it any further. So, they continue to manipulate the American public, because they know that they can… they’ve been doing it for years. That’s why we as milbloggers do what we do. Because, we want the American public to know that they can’t believe everything they see on television, especially in regards to Afghanistan and Iraq.
This morning, I went to check my email and found one from a member of the Gathering of Eagles in Texas. That email just reinforced my belief about the media and how they manipulated the American public during the Vietnam War and how they continue to do so today. That email is something that I’d like to share here, as I feel that, not only do our Vietnam Vets need to read it, but every citizen in our country should take the time to read it. It reminds us that we, as a nation need to take care to not believe everything we hear on the nightly news. That we as a nation, need to take the time to investigate for ourselves and not form our opinions based on what the evening news anchor decides that we should hear. Just to remind ourselves that we need to take care, that this generation of warriors and the future generations, never have to endure what their Vietnam era bretheren did and to remind us of the huge debt we owe the men and women who served during the Vietnam era.
OPEN LETTER TO VIETNAM VETERANS
I was in my twenties during the Vietnam era. I was a single mother and, I’m sad to say, I was probably one of the most self-centered people on the planet. To be perfectly honest. I didn’t care one way or the other about the war. All I cared about was me-how I looked, what I wore, and where I was going. I worked and I played. I was never politically involved in anything, but I allowed my opinions to be formed by the media. It happened without my ever being aware. I listened to the protest songs and I watched the six o’clock news and I listened to all the people who were talking. After awhile, I began to repeat their words and, if you were to ask me, I’d have told you I was against the war. It was very popular. Everyone was doing it, and we never saw what it was doing to our men. All we were shown was what they were doing to the people of Vietnam .
My brother joined the Navy and then he was sent to Vietnam . When he came home, I repeated the words to him. It surprised me at how angry he became. I hurt him very deeply and there were years of separation-not only of miles, but also of character. I didn’t understand.
In fact, I didn’t understand anything until one day I opened my newspaper and saw the anguished face of a Vietnam veteran. The picture was taken at the opening of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington , D.C. His countenance revealed the terrible burden of his soul. As I looked at his picture and his tears, I finally understood a tiny portion of what you had given for us and what we had done to you. I understood that I had been manipulated, but I also knew that I had failed to think for myself. It was like waking up out of a nightmare, except that the nightmare was real. I didn’t know what to do.
One day about three years ago, I went to a member of the church I attended at that time, because he had served in Vietnam . I asked him if he had been in Vietnam , and he got a look on his face and said, “Yes.” Then, I took his hand, looked him square in the face, and said, “Thank you for going.” His jaw dropped, he got an amazed look on his face, and then he said, “No one has ever said that to me.” He hugged me and I could see that he was about to get tears in his eyes. It gave me an idea, because there is much more that needs to be said. How do we put into words all the regret of so many years? I don’t know, but when I have an opportunity, I take it so here goes.
Have you been to Vietnam ? If so, I have something I want to say to you-Thank you for going! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please forgive me for my insensitivity. I don’t know how I could have been so blind, but I was. When I woke up, you were wounded and the damage was done, and I don’t know how to fix it. I will never stop regretting my actions, and I will never let it happen again.
Please understand that I am speaking for the general public also. We know we blew it and we don’t know how to make it up to you. We wish we had been there for you when you came home from Vietnam because you were a hero and you deserved better. Inside of you there is a pain that will never completely go away and you know what? It’s inside of us, too; because when we let you down, we hurt ourselves, too. We all know it and we suffer guilt and we don’t know what to do so we cheer for our troops and write letters to “any soldier” and we hang out the yellow ribbons and fly the flag and we love America. We love you too, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you. I know in my heart that, when we cheer wildly for our troops, part of the reason is trying to make up for Vietnam. And while it may work for us, it does nothing for you.
We failed you. You didn’t fail us, but we failed you and we lost our only chance to be grateful to you at the time when you needed and deserved it. We have disgraced ourselves and brought shame to our country. We did it and we need your forgiveness. Please say you will forgive us and please take your rightful place as heroes of our country. We have learned a terribly painful lesson at your expense and we don’t know how to fix it.
From the heart,