On the 11th day of November every year, we in the United States pause to honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces. We call it Veterans Day. March 29 has been set aside as a day to recognize those veterans who served during the United States mission to VietNam.
Military veterans today are held in high regard, and receive public and private recognition in many ways. This was not the case 40-50 years ago, when Vietnam veterans like my husband were not respected or appreciated.
The public’s anger at our government for pursuing an unpopular war was often directed at the service members who believed they were doing the right thing by serving their country. They were blamed, and unfortunately felt shame for the mistakes made by those in authority.
When called upon, they served their country but their country did not serve them well. Perhaps saddest of all, they received little if any welcome when they came home.
A national monument honoring Vietnam veterans now stands in Washington, D.C., as well as memorials elsewhere, like the one in Angel Fire New Mexico. There is a travelling “Wall” , a replica of the one in the nation’s capital.
My husband has caps and shirts identifying him as a veteran; when he wears them in public, people will come to him and thank him for serving. Sometimes they will ask about his service experience, especially if they are also a veteran. Fellow veterans always offer a hand, saying “Welcome home.”
We meet relatives of service members who eagerly share their loved one’s story. Sometimes, it is a story of one who did not come home. These stories are often heart wrenching and we walk away choked up and silent.
To all of you who do or have served in the military, and to your loved ones-
“Welcome home and thank you for your service. We can never repay our debt to you. “
My husband, Raymond Oglesby wrote a personal account of his military experience, here is an excerpt-
” I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.
When I came home, I did not talk about my involvement in the Vietnam War for over fifteen years. I only told two or three people what really happened. I thought only another Vietnam vet could understand. “
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