November 11 is a special date that America has set aside to honor its military veterans. Veteran’s Day began as Armistice Day Commemoration proclaimed by President Wilson on November 11, 1919: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
In the last ten years we have seen thousands of veterans return home to a grateful nation. Americans set aside differences of opinion to honor those who have sacrificed so much in the service to our great nation. Unfortunately this was not always the case, especially for Vietnam veterans.
In 2010, I had the honor to meet two special veterans during the Army Reserve’s Annual Capitol re-enlistment Ceremony. Jonathan Turner and David Smith both distinguished Vietnam veterans were there to support their children during the re-enlistment ceremony.
In conversation with Mr. Turner and Mr. Smith, they expressed their gratitude and thanks for the manner in which their children had been honored and acknowledged upon their return from war. When asked about their own personal experience, the comments where different. Their experience was different to that of their children; sadly it was very common to that of most Vietnam veterans.
“Many of us came home to anti-war protests and misguided anger aimed at returning veterans. Some Soldiers were told to take their uniforms off and not tell anybody who they were. We just went home without any fanfare and continued on with our lives”
We often forget or take for granted the people that most deserve our gratitude. George Washington once said “a nation is judged by how it treats its veterans.” The hero’s welcome to these veterans should not be a fantasy tucked away in some secret corner.
This is our opportunity to show our gratitude and thanks to the great men, women and families who have sacrificed so much and asked so little. Thank you Mr. Turner, Thank you Mr. Smith; thanks to all the patriots who have answered the call of duty.