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America withdrew its last troops from Vietnam on March 29, 1975. Annually, the date is set aside as a national holiday, Vietnam Veteran Day, to honor and remember all the men and women who served their country in the Vietnam War. To all of those who died in combat, or later from their injuries or since over time, those who suffer the affects of Agent Orange and all who served, we salute you.

Welcome Home

Joseph S. Benson, PhD

”At the time, many opposed the Vietnam War, mounting protest marches and sit-ins galore. Some fled to Canada while others burned draft cards, but patriotic Americans still flew flags in their yards. Some were drafted, “I want you!” Uncle Sam insisted. Yet many of us stepped up and enlisted. We signed on the line; we swore the oath. It’s our duty, we thought. A promise we wrote. None of us knew how much we’d be tested. Communism, they said, must be arrested. Sent to the war zone, barely needing to shave, expected to perform and appear to be brave. Some, safe back home, didn’t give us two hoots, just a bunch of boys walking ‘round in men’s boots. The VC launched rockets. Tried to hit the air field. When they hit our compound, there was really no shield. As radio man for React Platoon, I’d hit the ground, running. We had to form up in case the VC came gunning. With rockets still flying we stood in formation. Ready to man the perimeter with no hesitation. If the lucky among us, managed to survive, the time to go home would finally arrive. A tour of duty in Nam lasted at least one year. Now on our way back to great steak and cold beer. When the “Freedom Bird” took off we could begin to relax Brothers in Arms, who have each other’s backs. Heading back to “ the World” and back to our lives. Back to our families, sweethearts and wives. Most weren’t prepared for how we’d be treated. Vitriol and hate was how we were greeted. Perceived like an enemy was so hard to take. Surely doing our duty was not a mistake. Nam vets for so long, felt so all alone. We kept it all in ‘till our hearts felt like stone. For too many it’s been too little, too late. So many have passed who only felt hate. As you go about life, wherever you roam, when you meet Vietnam Vets, tell them, “Welcome Home.”’

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