I was in 8th grade when the United States pulled out of Vietnam. I can’t say that I really thought about what might happen to me if it continued another four years and I was drafted, because like most 13-year-old kids, four years seemed like a lifetime.
I can’t say the same for my oldest brother.
Pat was a senior, a few months prior to graduating, when a peace agreement was signed in January of 1973. The war had been front and center in our lives for years, a nightly visitor on the evening news in the form of graphic footage, countrywide protests and political mayhem.
Pat’s good friend’s brother, Spc. William E. Tieman, was killed in action in 1968, as was Pfc. George Capparelli, the son, brother, and uncle of another local family we knew in our small town. My sister’s boyfriend’s brother, Chief Warrant Officer Frank Anton, spent 1,897 days as a POW.
Everybody knew somebody.
When the Vietnam War finally ended, most people just wanted to forget. We can never forget.
There are more than 58,000 names inscribed on the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The friends and families of those soldiers, sailors, and Marines can never forget. Neither can the nearly 3 million who served during that time. Everyone who lived through that time remembers. And those memories must be honored.
The mobile “Wall That Heals” will be at Lake Pleasant March 14-17. Make it a point to visit.
Bring your kids, bring your memories, and maybe tote along a dozen donuts or a jug of coffee and thank a Vietnam veteran. It’s no secret how horribly these men and women were treated when they came home. We can’t change that but we can help to maybe heal that wound, even just a little.