PIoneer Editorial: Vietnam vet recognition long overdue
Minnesota, in an action way overdue, will now acknowledge the state's veterans of the Vietnam War with their own day. Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday signed into law a bill declaring March 29 in Minnesota as Vietnam Veterans Day. The day is importa...
Minnesota, in an action way overdue, will now acknowledge the state's veterans of the Vietnam War with their own day.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday signed into law a bill declaring March 29 in Minnesota as Vietnam Veterans Day. The day is important, as it denotes the last day U.S. military forces were in Saigon, with the last 2,500 troops withdrawn, including the widely circulated film of a U.S. helicopter taking the last evacuees off the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. This Saturday marks the 35th anniversary of that day.
The Vietnam War was fought both in Southeast Asia and on the streets of America. Protests rising to mind include the riots during the 1968 Democrat National Convention in Chicago and the death of four protesting students who were shot by National Guardsmen at Kent State University.
That war was misguided, badly orchestrated and split the nation in half. But dissent went deeper, to blaming and shaming our soldiers who served in Vietnam. These men and women served our country in the name of freedom, wearing the uniform of our nation's armed forces as a symbol of our desire to free peoples from oppression, and defending our hard-fought freedoms. It was a sacrifice that saw many not return home. But what was wrong was the way those who did return home were treated.
We have learned today, with the Iraq War, that we need to be vocal about the U.S.'s role in waging war in foreign nations while not questioning the unswerving will and sacrifice of those we send to do battle in our country's name. We have a right to disagree with policy, but must stand together behind those who have answered a call to serve and protect at great personal sacrifice.
Acknowledging those who served this country well in the dank jungles and swamps of Vietnam is 35 years too late, but at last it will be done.
Thanks need to be given to authors of the bill, Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, and Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, who had the foresight to finally recognize our veterans of the Vietnam War with the same honors we give those of other wars in which Americans paid the ultimate sacrifice.
While the bill comes too late to plan and major commemorations this Saturday, Bemidji will be fortunate to host "The Wall That Heals," a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that stands at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. That display will be Thursday through Sunday at the Lake Bemidji waterfront, at the Tourist Information Center.
The 250-foot replica mirrors the original wall in Washington, D.C., which has carved in granite the names of the nearly 58,000 American soldiers who did make the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. We will continue to honor them in our prayers, but now the annual Vietnam Veterans Day will allow us to also honor those who served and returned home, giving them the welcome they were then denied.