President Barack Obama’s testimonial to the contributions and sacrifices of Vietnam War veterans was long overdue, and Americans should heed the commander in chief’s words in trying to right a terrible wrong.
Sentinel & Enterprise
Posted: 06/03/2012 06:32:49 AM EDT
At a Memorial Day ceremony held at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., Obama urged Americans to mark the 50th anniversary of that ill-fated war by praising the soldiers who served and assisting them with issues they might be facing.
Five decades ago, tens of thousands of soldiers returned from Vietnam to an unwelcome homecoming, physically and psychologically battered from a long, torturous war that resulted in 58,000 American deaths and the perception of a military “defeat.” Soldiers were unjustly blamed for the war’s misguided management by White House politicians who meddled in military strategy and prolonged America’s involvement in a misunderstood foreign battle. Many brave men and women died needlessly; others continue to bear the wounds of combat and the mental scars of fighting a war that grew so unpopular it forced a sitting president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, to decide not to seek re-election.
Unfortunately, the soldiers got stuck with the black stain on America’s image rather than the politicians who deserved it. President Obama said it is time to wipe the slate clean.
“You were sometimes blamed for the misdeeds of a few,” Obama told Vietnam veterans. “You came home and were sometimes denigrated when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.
“Even though some Americans turned their backs on you, you never turned your backs on America,” said the president.
A majority of Vietnam veterans readjusted to civilian life, went to school, got good jobs, became successful business owners, productive workers and solid citizens and raised families. They put the worst behind them with dignity, despite the cloud that was hung over their heads for years. Obama wants America to show its gratitude to these sons and daughters of liberty once and for all. We agree wholeheartedly.
The president has designated May 28 to Nov. 11 for commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We urge each community to do its part with programs, ceremonies and activities that honor the veterans who did what they were asked to do, without complaint, in that long-ago and much-maligned conflict.