Letter: An Overdue Welcome Home
To the Editor:
I received a recent email from an old Vietnam buddy in Idaho in response to an email I forwarded to him about the recent anniversary of James Doolittle’s famous raid over Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, immortalized in the movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. Earlier this year, the last four survivors of that raid, all in their 90s, gathered for perhaps the last time for their annual reunion and the ritual of toasting their comrades who have passed on. My friend remarked about the significant difference between World War II veterans and those of us who served during Vietnam. “They have great reunions. The majority of us did not keep up with each other because most of us hid the fact we served in Vietnam.”
What a shame that so many of our Vietnam veterans still feel shunned some 40 years after the war ended. We answered our country’s call and got blamed for our patriotism. Judging from the many who visited and paid their respects to the 58,267 fallen heroes whose names appeared on the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall in North Haverhill this past May and by the 2,000-plus at the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Ceremony in Concord on March 30 this year, that long overdue welcome home is slowly becoming a reality. There are Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans out there still hurting from the way they were treated upon returning home.
As Americans we need to continue to reach out and extend the thanks and welcome home they never received. The glasses will soon be emptied for the last of the Doolittle Raiders as well as our other living World War II vets. Next in line are aging Korean War veterans, followed by those who served during the Vietnam era. While they are still with us, give thanks for their service and a special, long-overdue welcome home to Vietnam-era veterans. I have received my due, and I hope you will join me in thanking other Vietnam-era veterans and all the men and women from all branches of the service, past and present, for their sacrifices. A thank you will make their day. You can’t thank them enough.