GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

November 9, 2012

My View: A bittersweet 50-year anniversary

To the editor:

Gloucester’s 2012 Veterans Day Ceremony is being held Sunday at Gloucester High School, commencing at 9 a.m. and sponsored by the United Veterans Council of Gloucester and the Office of Veterans’ Services for the City of Gloucester.

This Veterans Day is extremely significant for those of us who fought in Vietnam, for it is the 50th anniversary of the commencement of the Vietnam War — a bittersweet event but an important anniversary.

Additionally, Nov. 13, 2012, marks the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. For one who has stood in the shadow of that memorial and gazed up at the names of my fallen friends, many memories come flooding back as the pain and sorrow often comes rushing to the surface. But it is also a stark reminder to me of those who came back and the consequences of same.

For many of us, coming back from Vietnam meant hiding in plain sight. Vietnam veterans have for many years labored in obscurity, forgotten and shunned by society despite the sacrifices that were made. We felt shamed and disgraced of our actions in that controversial war and the response from the “ungrateful” nation supported that belief.

Many in society at the time mistook the warriors for the war, and we paid the price for this mistake and continue to do so. We became the “Lost Generation.” And for 11 young men from this city, they paid the ultimate sacrifice in a country that many have now forgotten.

Thankfully, the nation appears to have changed. It is now able to separate the warriors from the war. The veterans from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home to a supportive and welcoming environment. The government and its citizens are now making attempts to assist and help our returning veterans through a variety of programs and by just saying “thank you!”

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