Thirty-five years ago the last U.S. soldiers left Vietnam. Yet the war continues because Vietnam’s veterans returned home to contempt rather than appreciation. Even today a celebration in their honor–held near Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, NC no less–can’t escape the longstanding divisions. 

Fayetteville’s mayor organized this “homecoming” celebration. But he also invited Quaker House to participate in the festivities. Quaker House represents a pacifist, anti-Vietnam War attitude, a fact readily recognized by the organization’s director, Chuck Fager. Fager defended his group’s participation on the basis that anti-war sentiment is a historical aspect of the Vietnam era. While he’s factually correct, he has missed this event’s point. 

Not every celebration needs to be a history lesson. The Holocaust is a historical fact of World War II. Selling out neighbors to the British was common during the Revolutionary War. But we don’t recognize Nazis on Victory in Europe Day or Tories on Independence Day. These examples are extreme, yet the inclusion of an anti-Vietnam protest organization in a Vietnam veteran’s recognition ceremony is equally inappropriate. 

The mindset represented at Quaker House had its day. Protesters received the hero’s treatment during the Vietnam War. Sure, they had their share of detractors. But media coverage gave protesters far more favor than was their due. Why can’t the Fayetteville celebration honor the soldiers who did Vietnam’s dirty work? Why should they share the spotlight with an organization promoting anti-Vietnam War films featuring the traitorous Jane Fonda, which is Quaker House’s plan? 

Mr. Fager, stay home and keep your sympathizers with you. Keep your films in the can and the North Vietnamese Army’s favorite vixen off the screen. This is the soldier’s day, not yours. Fayetteville’s mayor shouldn’t have invited you and you should gracefully butt-out. 

People can disagree with why Vietnam was fought and how it was managed. They’re free to question and second-guess Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, or whoever. But the men who fought, bled and died in those steamy jungles didn’t deserve the anti-war protester’s scorn. 

The Vietnam soldier fought the communist expansion in Southeast Asia. They won the battles in a war where political considerations denied them victory. Vietnam’s ultimate outcome wasn’t what their efforts earned. There was no justifiable reason for a misguided generation of Mao disciples and slovenly hippies to spit on them and called them “baby-killers.” 

Vietnam veterans gave what they had and proved that America wouldn’t sit idly in the face of communist aggression. They fought under restraining rules of engagement against an enemy that knew no rules. And they did so at the behest of a government that tied one hand behind their backs before sending them afield. 

Sure, efforts have since been made to recognize and honor the Vietnam veteran’s service and sacrifice. But they deserved a proper homecoming when they returned from Southeast Asia. A little extra recognition now is more than justified.

Comments

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  • Thomas Jackson

    Sorry the meme that “prtoesters” were honored is a sad joke. I believe the electuion in 1972 demonstrated what the American people thought of the protesters.

  • Whodat

    A major concern of mine is that we did not learn, we did not change. Our Afganistan and Iraq adventures read much the same as as the Pentagon papers.

    Not since WW II have we FOUGHT a war to win, where we, in effect, said, “we’re gonna keep calling y’all until y’all stop killing us.”
    We bombed cities full of civilians in order to get their attention. Now, we put Marines in the brig who might shoot first when surrounded by mean and dangerous people who are not in uniform.

    As a ’72 returnee who was not celebrated, I still am not bothered by that near as much as I am bothered by a government and a people who will send its kids to die without having the gonads to declare war and treat the issue as such.

    • http://www.sotr.us Cordeiro

      I again defer to the wise words of Whodat. Thank you, sir, for what you did – and where you did it.

      Welcome home.

    • Rochelle

      Whodat, you returned from war, the year I was born. Thank you for making the world I was born into a little safer. You are a hero.

    • Rob

      Agreed Whodat.

      Though I have to say I’m not sure Rochelle gets the point, her sentiment is nice enough.

      • Whodat

        Let me be very clear. Y’all are wonderful, but I was not where the Marines and the Soldiers and the Small Boat Navy guys were. I was safe. The Navy put me where they wanted me, but I can take no praise for sacrifice compared to those true patriots.

        I think all of us wanted to win, but our government would not let us. I will always believe that if any conflict is worth the first American life, it is worthy of a declaration of war and a full 100% kick-ass attitude, not some PC, hands-tied, rules of engagement bull sh–!

        That is what I still struggle with. The fact that only my parents met my plane coming home (my “true love” had moved in with a friend of mine) does not bother me. I found a new gal in a week or so and there was beer and bar-b-q with my old high school gang and the same old swimming hole. And then, I went back to UT to finish and found lots of fun. I was OK. But, my point is, nothing has changed in the way we wuss around with those who would kill us and our way of life. I would go again – if we would fight to win.

        • Rochelle

          It does seem that we hamstring our military with “rules” that nobody else follows. Maybe, when Hollywood started producing Jane Fonda’s who used the camera for treason, rather than the Jean Arther’s in films supportive of the Government’s war, the court of public opinion was changed. Or perhaps American’s had it so good for so long that they were no longer appreciative of the sacrifices. But most likely, the protesters, who yelled loudest, decided public policy, because Presidents played politics first and war second.

          In any case Mr. Fager and his entourage, should definitely stay at home!

  • Rochelle

    Right on!!!!!!

  • Troy La Mana

    I agree, the protesters can stay home.