&T B Y C I N D Y R A M S E Y
hank You for Your Sacrifice Five Vietnam veterans reflect on America’s evolving attitude toward veterans
Desert Storm veterans returned home to picnics and parades. Veterans arriving home from Iraq and Afghanistan in the
years since are respected, and their service appreciated even as support for those wars has waned. Americans recognize the
difference between supporting our troops and supporting war, and embrace the acts of heroism and valor these brave indi-viduals
Brian Chase U.S. NAVY
Once vilified Vietnam vets now proudly display mementos of their service.
The memorabilia here is from Brian Chase’s tour that began in 1967.
But the veterans who fought in Vietnam, the first war that the American public did not reflect on with pride, were neither
respected nor appreciated. They were ridiculed and spat upon, protested and vilified. Americans expressed their grief and
anger by lashing out at soldiers as perpetrators of the war.
“A Vietnam vet could take being spat upon by one person. What broke our hearts was being spat upon by our coun-try,”
wrote Vietnam veteran Gary C. Peters in a letter included among more than 200 excerpted in Bob Greene’s book
“Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam” (Putnam 1989).
They never wanted nor expected parades and celebrations. All they wanted then — and now — is for people to try to
understand and genuinely appreciate what they sacrificed for democracy and freedom.
Post-9/11 patriotism has trickled down to Vietnam veterans. For some, it may be too little, too late. But at least now they are not afraid
to identify themselves as Vietnam veterans. They wear their hats and
shirts with pride and don’t hesitate to show their ID cards.
Five Vietnam veterans with local ties share a small part of their
experiences in hopes of enhancing that understanding.
Slick Katz U.S. MARINES
AND MEMORABILIA COURTESY OF BRIAN CHASE
PHOTO COURTESY OF SLICK KATZ