Our Forgotten Veterans–Why They Still Matter…

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Let me tell you what I know about Vietnam Veterans…

1) They are still among us…they’re our colleagues at work, our fellow parishioners at church, those faces in the crowd you see at your local shopping mall, and those drivers on the freeway next to you in gridlock traffic…

2) They are usually known for their membership in that much written about, much more positively associated group–Baby Boomers.With the exception of their service in the Vietnam War, as is characteristic of their cultural group, you usually can’t shut them up when they feel strongly about something, and you certainly can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. They make their own rules.

3) Each one of them, almost without exception, has been socially conditioned in some manner over the past 40 years to A) Forget that they served, B) Deny that they are veterans, or at least never proactively speak up about their veteran status and C) Try to forget what happened to them when they returned home…

4) They served as soldiers just like the veterans of all of our “popular” wars, i.e., WWI & WWII, etc. They are brave heroes, just the same…the only differences are that instead of ticker tape parades and the thanks of a grateful nation, upon their return home, IF they returned home, they were greeted with hatred and anger, and American citizens who waited for them at the airport only to spit in their faces and call them “baby killers”.

5) They are still waiting for our thanks for their service, and those two simple words….”Welcome Home”. If you think that it’s too late, or they don’t care anymore, or they are now irrelevant, think again. We, as a nation, committed a great wrong against these young men and women. They served and risked their lives–for us. And for that, and that alone, they deserve our deepest and most sincere thanks–STILL.

A few years ago I looked around me and I saw all of these things in the Vietnam Veterans I had contact with. I saw a need that not too many groups or individuals were interested in addressing. The need to go back and at least give it our best shot to give them that ticker tape parade that they never got…to let them know, before it was really too late and they were all gone, that we appreciated the fact that they answered the call of the leaders of their country, did their duty, and that we are sincerely sorry about the way they were treated when they came home. In order to accomplish my goal, I started this Cause, via the Facebook Causes Application: Thank a Vietnam Veteran.

This was an easy thing for me to do…really minimal effort. And really all I have to do now is monitor the page to make sure nothing inappropriate is said, post some bulletins with news and such now and then, and watch it grow on its own. As of the time of this writing, my Cause has a total of 6,813 members–members who feel as I do about the need for us all to do something for our Vietnam Veterans. And guess who else has joined? Vietnam Veterans themselves! And every now and then I get a personal note from one of them, or a post on the page thanking me for caring enough to start the cause. Just a few weeks ago one of them said, “It was 40 years before anyone thanked me, and it was on Facebook.”

Click this photo to visit the official National Vietnam Veterans Memorial site

So please, this Memorial Day, won’t you join me in bringing a tear to the eye of even one Vietnam Veteran who thought he’d never hear those simple words: Thank you for your service…Welcome Home, Soldier!

To visit the Thank a Vietnam Veteran Cause Page, and/or join us click here: http://www.causes.com/causes/140497-thank-a-vietnam-veteran

To read more about the Vietnam War: http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war

To read more about Vietnam Veterans today and find out how you can help, go here :Vietnam Veterans Association http://www.vva.org/

Please remember that this has nothing to do with any sort of endorsement of the Vietnam War, or any war for that matter. How anyone feels about about any war should be completely separate and apart from their gratitude for soldiers who answered the call of duty when their leaders asked them to–because they felt a patriotic loyalty to their country, because it was the law, because it was the right thing to do. It makes no difference, and we owe them that…

Billy Joel’s Moving Musical Tribute to the Veterans of the Vietnam War

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