These days we tend to fall all over ourselves letting veterans know how much they are appreciated, and rightly so. The men and women who volunteer to protect us sacrifice so much, and they get so little in return.
But not so long ago there was a time when the mood was very different, when thousands of men, and some women too, returned home from Vietnam to a deafening silence. There were no parades, no slick, sentimental television commercials produced by Fortune 500 companies, and it’s safe to say no one ever gave up a seat in first class for a Vietnam soldier flying home, like some good people did just recently for a group of soldiers returning from Afghanistan. No, what we heard instead were stories of vets being spat on by otherwise reasonable people who called them baby killers.
Whether those shameful incidents really happened or not I can’t say, but the tales went around, and as my mother likes to say, “Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.” Whatever the case, I think in hindsight we can agree that the returning veterans of Vietnam were owed much more respect than they ever got.
So on this Veteran’s Day, I want to say a special thanks to the men and women who served in Vietnam. You deserve your country’s appreciation every bit as much as those who fought in the “good” wars, and it seems to me that most of America has finally come around to realize it.
Another thing my mother likes to say is, “Better late than never.”