Today is officially Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. As usual, our governments have been very slow to recognise the service of our Vietnam Veteran heroes. As is now very well known, our Vietnam Veterans were treated very shabbily, and that treatment is one of the reasons I do what I do in my small corner of Bratville. The way our Vietnam Veterans were/are treated gave me a mantra: NOT ON MY WATCH.
Many years ago, ( long before I was 'trained' as a journalist, lol) I wrote a column which I called Good Morning, Sunset Beach. At the time of writing, I submitted it to media around the world. Quelle surprise, not one outlet used it. I have since shared it with a couple of Vietnam Veterans over the years.
Today seems a good day to share excerpts here:
“Goooood Morning, Sunset Beach”
6a.m. clear, calm, not a ripple on the water. A blue heron stands serenely on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Is he oblivious to the Wall a few yards away? THIS is a replica of the Wall in Washington remembering, honoring all the husbands, sons, brothers and lovers who fought, and died, in a country I had never heard of until 1973. 1973 – the year I traveled to the U.S. from a small European country and saw, for the first time, men dying right in the living rooms of the good old U.S of A. As a young single girl, I had no point of reference to the dying and the accompanying political screaming. I had never seen such angry people as those I saw now, in small town America, screaming against the Vietnam War.
I was one of the lucky generation, that had never been a part of any war. Yes, my father was a bona fide hero, highly decorated, from WW2, but that was nothing to do with me, because he rarely talked about that.
Until 1973. For the first time I saw a grown man cry as he strummed a guitar in my living room and tried, in vain, to sing away all the terrible things he had seen in a land far, far away. Time moved on, and so did I. Vietnam was nothing to do with me. I had my own life to live. But then, another man cried in my arms. In flashbacks he took me to the trenches, and showed me the horrors of children screaming as they died in a war they didn’t ask for. This time the war was not on tv ...
1988 he and I go to the Wall replica set just yards from the rolling ocean. I don’t know why he goes but I am drawn, hoping to find answers to the madness of Vietnam. Instead I find cameramen, like vultures, hovering over those remembering, honoring. I see a man with a placard demonstrating against the Wall’s presence in Canada. “It’s nothing to do with Canada”. To which this man I love, always has his standard reply: “People died so he could have the freedom to do that.” Do I find answers? No – just an overwhelming sadness – sadness that men, women and children died, and it seems nothing has changed in the world. Still the insanity prevails in some corners of our world. Different places, different causes, same death. 1988 and still the world is not a safe place to live for many.
So it’s a beautiful morning. Dogs run freely and the water rolls timelessly to the ocean. Children’s laughter fills the air with carefree joy; lucky children who, if the world is kind to them, will never go to war, nor need to kill another human being so other children may know the freedoms they have. Joggers trot leisurely past the Wall, seemingly unaware that in other parts of the world there is no place to run, no freedom to run, even from bullets.
I sit on a log, surveying all that is beautiful, in the shadow of the Wall, and I cry. I still believe that every person has the right to live a life free from the oppression that still stalks our world. But age, knowledge, awareness, has tempered that – age, motherhood, and my intimate exposure to the Vietnam War, and the final knowing of the private agonies that drove my father. Yes, “no more wars” is still a wonderful idea, but I now know that peace doesn’t come free. Peace doesn’t come just because we ignore thugs, tyrants killing their own children in other corners of our world.
It is now 2007. Another blue heron stands at the shoreline, serene and unconcerned. The eagles perch atop their regular tree, and we look at each other. All looks the same as it always did – timeless, unchanging. I, though, am not the same person who sat here in this spot almost 20 years ago. I now understand the WHY of war, the absolute necessity of war, if all children are to have peace. I now know that I must honor those I have loved, those who gave all, those I love today who live on with the memories of all that they have given for peace. I now must live “I STAND WITH YOU”. If that means waging war, so there may be peace, so be it.
My beach has never been the same since the day I stood at the Wall, and neither have I.
Vietnam Nurses Memorial (more here and here)
"If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.
And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.
Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978
There are many tributes to our Vietnam Veterans out on the internet today. Susan Katz Keating has one up. One of the best, in my opinion, comes from War on Terror News:
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day
“Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans”
March 30 marks the anniversary of the day in 1973 that Congress ended combat and combat support unit operations in South Vietnam. It is also recognized as "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day"
Below you will find a few videos I found for my tribute to our Vietnam Veterans.
Thank you for your service. Welcome Home! God Bless You All....
Yes, there are a few videos, and links, over there. Take the time today to go read and watch, here.
To all my Vietnam Veteran friends, and including my personal Angel Soldiers: Thank you, THANK YOU! I stand with you, today and every day.