I’ve always made certain to say, “Welcome Home” to any Vietnam veteran to whom I was introduced. Then I made a decision to start saying it to those I saw in the store, in a parking lot, or across the street. I’m not the outgoing type, not a people person, and definitely not the type to talk to strangers. It’s difficult for me, but I do my best to “reach down and grab a pair” (of ovaries, in my case) and live up to this commitment.
Usually, it’s a matter of walking up to the individual, begging their pardon, grabbing their hand and choking out a welcome home, before fleeing the scene. I’m hoping that, with practice, it will involve more grace and less wild-eyed lurching. This is all about me needing to make amends for every babykiller comment ever uttered to a veteran. My beloved grandmother was always quick to admonish anyone who had negative comments about people in the military, especially back during the days of the Vietnam <air quote>conflict</air quote>. She wasn’t a political person, she was just protective of anyone who served their country. I try to emulate her in as many ways as I can.
The following link is to a forum thread that has page after page of actions that are note-worthy. Lots of videos, article and photo scans, and personal stories from Vietnam vets
Soldier’s Humanitarian & GOOD DEEDS during Vietnam’s “American War” – Page 4 – Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History.
Here’s a random example
We had many, “hundreds+” villages and hamlets within the 1st Inf Div AO.
Many times, our Company and Platoon Combat Medics would provide care and treatment to primarily us, but when the need was there, they also gave the same services to our enemy and civilians as we went about our business.
If we were just passing through a village our Medics could not wonder off on their own to care for them. However when we had to pause and stay for an hour or two, providing we were not involved in contact, the Medic would seek permission from Plt. Leaders and/or Sgts if he could provide some comfort to the civilians. Our major concern with this was the amount of product; many times Platoon Medics didn’t have enough creating a “logistical” problem and had to be re-supplied.
– Ken Jensen
1st ID, 1/28th ’67/’68 Phouc Vinh & Quan Loi
Skirmishes Bu Dop Dec-67, An My, Thu Duc Feb-68
Plt. Ldr – CIB, Purple Hearts, Silver Star
The thread goes off-topic occasionally, but even that is interesting to read. Once you’re done there, go find an old soldier and tell him, “Welcome Home.” We need to address this debt before it’s too late, and the opportunity to repay it is gone, forever.