Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Did Vietnam Protesters Treat Soldiers Who Fought in Vietnam?

This is my last response to my niece Rachel Sanders, who is doing a college project on the Vietnam War. I'm not sure I ever want to write on this topic again (though I am grateful that Rachel asked me about all this).

A point I want to make very clear and unambiguous: The soldiers who fought in Vietnam were our friends, our brothers, our cousins, our classmates. We did not hate them. We loved them, admired their courage, were even grateful, in a way, for their service. 

There were very few differences between them and us. We never spit on the returning soldiers, we never jeered them. Despite what has been said over and over--I never saw saw any of this. Perhaps it happened somewhere, but I never saw it. I loved my cousin Tommy Fitzpatrick, killed in the war. I loved and admired my Notre Dame classmate Steve Shields, killed in the war. I loved my brother Denny, who was in the Navy in the Vietnam theatre. I enjoyed hearing Euclid firefighter Mike Walsh's Vietnam stories. Same for Charlie Celizic. These were our family members and friends. We did not hate them.

Some of the soldiers who came back from Vietnam joined our protest. There was an organization called "Vietnam Vets Against the War." One of the great men in the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry, was both a Vietnam hero and a protester against the war.

John Kerry

[Thanks for this opportunity, Rachel, to remember. I do feel a little beat up now by the process of recalling so many painful things. And like I said, I think I am done, maybe forever, writing on this topic.]

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