Monday, May 28, 2012

Weeping

Rolling Thunder has cruised through the city since late last week.  I cheered them on and mentally thanked them for their resounding acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.

Moments ago, President Obama finished speaking at the Vietnam Memorial, aka, The Wall.  As I've never heard expressed so eloquently before, he spoke about all the things that should have been said and done when our troops came home from Southeast Asia.

This year is the 50th anniverary of the beginning of American military involvement in Vietnam.  It was stunning to realize that it's been that long.  For many of my generation, it seems like just yesterday our classmates and friends were learning they were being drafted to serve in a war that had not yet been declared.  Between 1962 and 1975, the pain of loss and agony over the missing was a daily burden broadcast on television.

Our returning Vietnam vets were treated like they shamed the country.  Many were ignored or -- worse -- castigated for participating, many of them not voluntarily.  Today the President aknowledged this fact and reminded everyone that we still owed them our gratitude and support for their efforts.

The tears started flowing at that point remembering friends whose lives were stolen from them before they had a chance to even live them.  So many good men and women gave their all for a cause that was lost almost before it started.  I don't think a single group has suffered more than our Vietnam Vets.  Physically, mentally and financially they have struggled against a tide of unprecedented negativity and neglect.

As the President revealed, it's been these guys who are working so hard to assure that vets coming after then will not suffer the same way they did.

I don't mean to ignore veterans of other wars.  Their sacrifices were equally heinous, but they were welcomed home and given advantages unavailable to Vietnam vets.  The Vietnam vets are MY vets and it moved me to hear them honored as they always should have been.

Following the President's speech, eight more names added to the wall were read out.  When a piper played "Amazing Grace" my tears flowed in earnest.  I totally lost it when a bugler soulfully played Taps.

Crying on Memorial Day is fitting and, I think, necessary.  Hating war won't make it go away, so shedding tears is a healthier way to relieve the sadness of loss.  I no longer visit The Wall because it is too painful.  It is a comfort to know that thousands visit it every week, assuring that my friends and all the others whose names are on the wall will never be forgotten.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great post, and you are not slighting the vets from other wars, most of them were deemed heros, as they should have been, but our war, the vets were not.