Belated thanks: Traveling Vietnam Memorial replica our chance to right a wrong
They came home to a different world, the veterans who served in the Vietnam War.
Instead of the accolades and thanks from a grateful nation, they were met with protests and derision -- and in some cases outright disrespect.
No thanks. Few cheers. No understanding just exactly how much these service members had sacrificed for their country.
They did not make the decision to go to war or the policies that precluded the way they would be allowed to fight it.
They were the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in a conflict that split a nation. But that doesn't make them any less heroes.
The traveling Vietnam Memorial is a scaled down version of the real thing in Washington, D.C. It is designed not just to allow veterans the chance to heal, but to allow the public to understand just how much that war cost us as a nation.
It is our chance to right a wrong done generations ago. It is our chance to say thank you.
So take the time this weekend to make the trip to Kinston to see the names etched into the memorial -- and to think about the lives that were taken much too soon. Think about the families who have lived decades without a beloved son, father or brother. Think about the men who are living today with the scars from that war.
Remember that behind every battle, every political decision, every campaign speech, are men -- and now women -- who must carry out the orders.
And thank God they answer that call with courage, bravery and honor.
Published in Editorials on September 14, 2011 10:38 AM