To a Vietnam Vet I’ve Never Met
by Holger (May 25, 2011)
First of all, let me simply thank you for your service to this country. And from the bottom of my heart, I want you to know how very proud I am of what you did for me in serving in the Vietnam War. To this day, I watch documentaries and videos of the war and every time I do, I am brought to tears by the sacrifice of our troops, that ultimate sacrifice. But the tears that fall from my face are not only for those who gave their lives over there, but for those who came home to America and felt the backlash of a people confused and angry and misinformed.
Yes, I have seen how they treated you as you set foot upon our land and yes, I have talked to some of your brothers who shared those stories of humiliation. I can only tell you how sorry I am that you, a fighting man, had to endure that. Even though I am only a civilian, I have enough close friends who have been in the military to know how important it is for you to feel the love and admiration and support of the people back home, and to see how some of the American people lashed out at you breaks my heart.
I want you to know, sir, that not all of us were lined up to treat you that way. But I have an admission to make, a confession actually. I was not one of those who spit on you or called you names. I was not one of those who burned the flag. I was one of those who stayed home and let you arrive here in America on your own…alone. I was one of those who felt I had to secretly hide my support of you and your brothers. Yes, I was one of the cowards.
On this Memorial Day weekend, I want you to know how sorry I am that I wasn’t brave enough to stand at the airports and the docks that day to welcome you home – to shout out how proud I was of you. To this day, I’ve lived with that shame.
But I hope today, that perhaps you can finally feel proud of your service and that this might be a long overdue welcome home and that maybe, just maybe, I can put my burden behind me as well.
I made a vow long ago that it would never happen again and since then, I have welcomed home the troops from various wars, I have stood along the roadside holding the flag as fallen heroes have passed by in their hearses. And yes, it will never happen again to another U.S. troop what happened to you.
I wish you peace this day. I wish you could know how proud I am of you.