Vietnam veterans still feel forgotten

To our local elected and appointed officials, the Vietnam War is over and to be forgotten.

Did you know that March 29 was Vietnam War Veterans Day and your chance to say “welcome home”?

If you were around when Johnny came marching home from Vietnam, you might remember that his reception was hardly a rousing welcome back.

Most of us who served in South East Asia are in our 70s now, yet we remember someone that died in that muddy jungle. We remember that friend or classmate or family member caught up in that nightmare.

Many aging Vietnam veterans are still suffering and feel forgotten, unappreciated and even discriminated against. For many the trauma of their battle experiences or their physical disabilities shattered their lives. For even more, adjustment to civilian life has never been easy.

There were no parades, no civic salutes. In fact, the vehemence of anti-war sentiment at one time forced many to swap uniforms for civilian clothes soon after stepping off that plane at Travis AFB.

President Barack Obama proclaimed March 29, 2012 as Vietnam Veterans Day. This proclamation asked all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, officially recognizing March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

How many of our officials knew or even cared that National Vietnam War Veterans Day was to be observed every year on March 29 as a way to thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice?

How long would it have taken to ring a bell one time for each million of the 2.7 million U.S. service members who served in Vietnam? Three seconds.

How long would have taken to ring a bell one time for each 10,000 of the 58,000 whose names are memorialized on a black granite wall in our nation’s capital? Six seconds.

How much time would it have taken to ring a bell one time for each 100,000 of 304,000 who were wounded? Three seconds.

How much time would it have taken to ring a bell one time for each 1,000 of the 1,253 Missing in Action (MIA) heroes who have not yet returned to American soil? Two seconds!

How much time would it have taken to ring a bell one time for each 500 of the 2,500 Prisoners of War (POWs)? Five seconds.

Next March 29, take the time to say thank you to those who served, and paid a high price in that hot, muddy insect-infested jungle.

I asked a uniformed member of a local VFW what did they do to recognize March 29. His response: “What is so important about that day?” I felt like I did when I stepped off that plane at Travis Air Force Base.

Good day!

Robert Ware

French Creek

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