Commentary by Gloria Roemer
It seems so long ago when you witnessed nightly on your living room television via the evening news, the horror of the war known as “The Vietnam Conflict”. Over 58,000 Americans were killed in that conflict that lasted about 18 years (1959 to 1975). The conflict proved to be the most unpopular war of the twentieth century. No war is “popular”, but we recognized the dangers of imperialism in World War I and World War II, and the need to protect American values and the American way of life. We, with our allies, won those two world wars. But in South Vietnam, we were fighting alone in support of the sovereign nation of South Vietnam and against the threat of international communism posed by North Vietnam.
As mentioned above, the Vietnam conflict was the first “war” that had news reporters and film crews imbedded with the troops doing the actual fighting. These reports were broadcast daily. As a result, everyone in the United States and around the world watched a war being waged with all its horrors, indignities, and inhumanity. There were also times of incredible bravery and compassion among our troops and the Vietnamese countrymen, but our nation was divided as to whether or not the US had the “moral authority” to intervene in a conflict between two sovereign nations.
Whichever side you were on, our men and women of the US Armed Services obeyed orders. After years of conflict, our leadership weighed the pros and cons of remaining in South Vietnam and concluded to bring our troops home. We left South Vietnam in 1975. We lost the fight against international communism because South and North Vietnam, as well as Laos and Cambodia all became communist countries.
Our Vietnam veterans have every reason to feel as if their country frowns upon them for participating in a conflict that we did not win. The peace movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s were unusually harsh on those who served even though they were following orders and most of them were drafted into service. Either way, these men and women deserve the respect and honor awarded to all veterans of all services and wars. The traveling memorial, The Wall that Heals, is a symbol of appreciation and gratitude to those who died and a remembrance of the sacrifice millions of Americans endured in losing their loved ones in a land so far away. The Wall that Heals brings a reality that our nation embraces our soldiers and heroes and they will never be forgotten.
To you all, thank you for your service and welcome home!