I closely track stories about Vietnam, and hardly a day passes when I don’t read an article honoring our Vets. Here’s a short sampling of what I mean, all published on October 12, 2016:
“Event to honor local Vietnam War Veterans on Thursday” Knoxville News Sentinel
“DAR honors Vietnam War vets with tree planting” Richland Source
“The Moving Wall-Residents honor Vietnam War Heroes” King City Rustler
Do Vietnam Vets really want to be honored, when so many feel regret? Are we not doing them, and ourselves, a disservice by not recognizing the horror that was the Vietnam War? Wouldn’t the conscience of the Vietnam Vet, and the nation as a whole, be better off if we recognized the truth about Vietnam? Or has the word of Christ (John 8:32) been forgotten? “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Like so many of our politicians, and the powerful business elite we, as a nation, seem never to be wrong. We have lost the moral conviction to admit we did bad, and to ask for forgiveness. Worse yet, we have grown indifferent to the truth and to putting forward any effort to discovering it. Honoring Vets for a war we know nothing about – and care to know nothing about – is an easier course to take, and conveniently doesn’t put a dent into the smooth flow of patriotism that makes us feel good about being American.
This is not honor, it’s denial. It doesn’t serve the Vet, but rather ourselves.
Ironically, many Vets have returned to Vietnam to ask for forgiveness for the acts of state sponsored murder they were complicit in. Their regret is not one of being forgotten or mistreated upon returning home, but instead one of moral conviction and respect for the loss of life, family, and property that they were party to in Vietnam. For this, and not duty to country, the Vietnam Vet deserved to be honored.
Shouldn’t we, the United States of America, do the same? Isn’t it time we man-up, recognize the truth about Vietnam and express our forgiveness? This, more than our false pageantries of honor, would do more to heal our Vietnam Vets and acknowledge the extent of their sacrifice.