Vietnam Battle still Raging 50 years later
Five decades had passed and the moment of remembering and reconciling was close at hand. As the time neared, both excitement and anxiety began to rise up, churning like a storm tide.
Have the cool kids from the good old school days now assumed the physical dimensions of humongous and bloated Chinese dumplings? Has the class nerd sold his tech firm for a bazillion dollars and is now raising genetically-modified iguanas in the Amazon rainforest? Or, would everyone face the most puzzling questions of all, “Lord, where has the long hair of our gridiron heroes gone, and who the heck is that?
You see, it was the landmark 50th high school reunion of my child bride which was fast approaching. And, unfortunately I had a longstanding obligation and would not be able to attend. So, weeks in advance, she prudently began preparing herself, mentally and appearance-wise, for this epic gathering to be faced without the benefit of moral support from her absentee spouse.
Each single day leading up to this weekend soiree, a bit of her subliminal fear drifted away and was quickly replaced with gleeful anticipation. But, about a five or six days before this event, a gloomy text was received by all returning classmates. It cast a long and dark shadow over what should have been a joyful occasion.
This terse electronic message was in response to a suggestion from one of the planners that the young men from the Class of ’69, who lost their lives in Vietnam, be honored with a photographic collage to be placed in the hotel ball room. This temporary memorial would provide an opportunity for all to pause and reflect on their tremendous sacrifice and the great personal loss which it caused.
During the war years, thousands openly opposed our complicated involvement in this North versus South conflict. In city after city, acrid and bitter emotions from both camps flooded the streets. In looking back, there is little doubt that this was, indeed, America’s most unpopular war.
So, it seems this unhappy text blaster had been a vigorous war protestor and was offended that these casualties of this Southeast Asia conflict would, or even could, be fondly remembered. He and a sign-toting ally from his far-away past went even further by demanding that the compact band of high school compatriots, who zealously ‘fought’ to end this war, should have their likenesses displayed right next to those who did not return to their homeland alive.
Our sad history reveals that the opposers subsequently began to heap deep-seated shame on all individuals wearing the uniform of their branch of the armed forces. To our downtrodden service members, this distain was like being soaked with projectile vomiting.
Bizarrely, it looked as if our civilian population had been brain washed. Collectively, they had forgotten that those sent to fight and die on foreign soil DO NOT start our wars. This is the sole prerogative of professional politicians; those duly elected to serve in federal office, especially the sitting president.
This questionably-motivated pair of protestors also failed to recognize that, with the exception of the massacre at Kent State University, relatively few of those countering the war lost their lives in promoting their cause. To the silent minority, these pontificating peace doves had blatantly dishonored parents, brothers, sisters and friends who were left to mourn the, admittedly tragic and untimely, loss of 58,000 members of our armed forces in Vietnam. Add to this the tens of thousands who were permanently physically and/or emotionally damaged. Yet mysteriously, this dynamically disenchanted duo felt entitled to be remembered, right alongside of these valiant warriors. They brashly made these demands while they still walk among us ‘unscathed’, having never experienced the violence and sheer terror of battle.
I shake my head in total dismay at the arrogance and ignorance of such misguided cultural products of the late ‘60s and early 70s. Fortunately, today there are numerous groups dedicated to honoring, not defiling, the selfless service of those wearing the uniform of the good old USA. They have looked back in time and seen the pain callously inflicted upon our Vietnam veterans and their families and proclaimed “Never Again!”.
But, at the same time, I staunchly believe it is every American’s right to loudly voice their carefully-considered opinions. In fact, there are times when I feel it is a solemn responsibility, as “free” citizens, to stand up and be counted when there are wrongs to be righted! So, perhaps, we should all thoughtfully weigh the likelihood that evil WILL flourish when good men and women do nothing?
Some say it is our soldiers who vigilantly protect these uncommon privileges of U.S. citizenship? But, lets cautiously ensure we have justly targeted the right people and worthy causes before we mount an attack.