(Washington, DC) -- Today has been designated as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” by a resolution of Congress, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Representative Linda Sanchez in the House. However belated the recognition of the service and sacrifice of those of us who served in Southeast Asia during the years of what was then America’s longest war, it is appreciated.
For far too long, citizens of all political persuasions blamed those who served for the failures of those led, those officials whose military as well as political policies failed. Returning veterans were not welcomed into the bosom of a grateful nation; instead, many were ignored at best, scorned at worst. The psychological issues faced by many Vietnam vets can be traced not simply to what they experienced in Vietnam, but to this unwelcome home.
Perhaps America has grown up. Today, Americans embrace those who have volunteered for military service and have placed themselves in harm’s way – whether they agree or disagree with the mission in Iraq or Afghanistan. These newly minted veterans, and those who continue to serve despite deployment after deployment, are offered a variety of opportunities and events across the nation by Americans who want to say in some way, Welcome Home, and Thank You for Your Service.
Americans belatedly embrace Vietnam veterans as well, having come to the realization that those who served fought as well as their fathers and uncles did in World War II and in Korea. As we approach 50 years since the beginning of that ill-fated venture, events are being planned nationally as well as locally to honor those who served, and to remember those who were lost to the war. “Better late than never” may be a cliché, but it’s never too late to say Thank You for Your Service, and Welcome Home.