A day set aside to remember and honor those who served during the Vietnam War. That was the war of my generation. My high school classmates were sent and many didn’t come back. Others came back permanently wounded physically or mentally. I sure didn’t want that for them. When I think of that war it brings sadness. The truth is all war brings sadness to me.
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be young and scared and away from your home and loved ones. The average age of our military was 23 years old. I am sure most of them absolutely hated every minute feeling fear, stress and anticipating an attack any minute. Horrible heat and other highly uncomfortable environmental conditions they had to deal with. Lack of sleep …exhaustion. Being in a place where the language and even writing system are completely unknown. It was hell for everyone.
Friends dead and dying. People back at home not understanding what and why the war. First war with technology allowing reporting live from the front. Sharing the horrors of war…The children and women wounded and dead from our weapons. No war can feel good … this one live on tv felt bad. Wanting it to end and not knowing how to make that happen. Sad sad then it ended. 58000 of our military died. From time to time I would hear of a classmate or acquaintance dying. My parents brought home a tape made by my cousin. A message back to my aunt and uncle. He was trying to make them laugh but I could hear the fear. Hoping he would see them again. Years later he told me of sitting on top of a hill shooting as fast as he could and trying to make it seem like there were more people with him then the reality. God I hated that. Even years later it was hard to hear.
Meanwhile his brother was working a desk job in Germany. No sense to any of it that I understood. It was a source of teasing between them in later years. That’s my crazy family’s way of coping. They were fighting for our country. I know that.
Our guys came home. I had no idea they were not appropriately welcomed home. I didn’t know the time or place a thank you kind of celebration could have happened. I was young and trying to raise my babies and not paying attention to the military life. It was not the life I knew.
I feel bad that we didn’t do the right thing for them. If I understood I would definitely have been part of a celebration for them. All of a sudden they were just back and part of our life again. How insane it must have felt to jump back into our busy lives with tv and laughing and being crazy and no one realizing the horrors they had seen and sacrifices they had just made. So ungrateful we all seemed. So many ended up broken and it is my fault. I didn’t do anything to make it better for them. Ignorance. I have not seen the wall in Washington, DC but I have heard it is powerful. All those names on a wall that goes on forever. I know many of the vets visit to remember and cry. Oh God I am so sorry that is part of what happened to them. I hope having a special day will allow those of us who didn’t recognize them and thank them a time to do it now. Long long too late but, an opportunity to try. I saw my cousin posted a thank you to her brothers. Unfortunately one is no longer living but, I am glad she did that.