North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

June 1, 2012

Our Views: It's past time to give Vietnam vets their due

AN NJN EDITORIAL — Think what you will about the politics of President Barack Obama. But in a speech on Memorial Day, he got something right: America treated its veterans returning from the Vietnam War shabbily.

It’s understandable, to a small extent. The war was unpopular, and poorly prosecuted by the politicians who tried to play generals. But being understandable doesn’t make it right.

A quote from the president’s speech at the Vietnam War Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery:

“[Many] came home and were sometimes denigrated when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.”

Amen to that.

On their return, Vietnam vets faced protesters who spit on them and called them baby-killers. A despicable act then and now, no matter what your opinion of that war. We would like to think the errors of our ways back then have been recognized and corrected.

Today, Vietnam veterans are held in much higher regard. Perhaps the haunting memorial in Washington to those who gave their lives in that war had something to do with that. Or maybe we simply grew up.

For whatever reason, we should honor those who fought in the Tet Offensive in the same way that we do those who stormed the beaches at Normandy. War is war, and the righteousness of the cause does nothing to lessen the scars of battle.

Those who fought in Vietnam didn’t question the reason. They just fought, and bled, and many died.

A grateful nation should remember them with honor and respect.

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