Hero of the Week: Vietnam Veterans

Updated: May 17, 2008



Tommy Batboy

The applause surprised me. Speaking at my college commencement ceremony I’d expected a reaction when I made fun of one of the economic professors, not the partial standing ovation I got when I mentioned I was a veteran. Like America’s entire current crop of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines I had signed on the dotted line because I wanted to serve. Like everyone in uniform both today and on the day I enlisted it was a conscious choice. On that stage, as the applause reached it’s loudest and people started to stand it hit me:

This never would have happened to a Vietnam Veteran.

By the time the United States left Vietnam 2.7 million Americans had fought in the country and her territorial waters. 47,072 died in the fighting and hundreds of thousands more would come home to face a dark and unforgivable chapter in American history. While I got a rousing round of applause for mentioning my service, Vietnam Vets received the venom and rancor of a frustrated nation. I returned home from Afghanistan to an old lady handing out brownies; Vietnam Vets returned home to an angry mob of war protesters. As they touched down in their native land, they were called baby killers or worse by self-righteous children who had the nerve to judge them for their sacrifices as they pretended to “change the world”. These events were horrible and shameful enough, but they were downright criminal in light of the truth.

Most of the men who fought in South East Asia didn’t want to be there any more than the protestors wanted them there.

They were draftees – told by their government that they had to put their lives on hold – that they had to go pick up a rifle and patrol the jungles or defend a post and that their mission was vital to the national security of the United States of America.

Through the year or more that these men and women fought, the media did nothing but tell them how wrong what they were doing was – that their contributions in Vietnam were criminal. When they returned they were spit on, marginalized and shunned as a segment of our populous led by leftist academics that had no skin in the game and no understanding of the situation, took it out on the people who had the absolute least amount of control over the situation.

In all the major wars this nation has fought, men have seen their buddies die, have called to God to get them through, and carried out their orders and performed their duty in defense of this great nation. Only one group was ever treated like this. Only one group never got the thank you, the pat on the back, or the applause that they so truly deserved. Instead of hiding in Canada or burning their draft cards as those who yelled obscenities at them had, Vietnam Vets sucked it up like the true heroes they are and drove on. We here at Ranger Up are truly humbled and proud to follow in your warrior footsteps.

Memorial Day. As a nation we are supposed to take this moment and reflect on the sacrifices that were made to make this nation great – to measure the price others have paid so we can call ourselves Americans. No one has sacrificed more for less or given more to this nation than the men and women who served in Vietnam. No. One. All of us here at Ranger Up know we cannot change what was done to you men and women. We know that our simple, humble “thank you” can’t erase the atrocious past of our nation. But we will never forget. We will never stop being eternally grateful for your sacrifices. We will never stop being proud to walk the path you helped blaze. We will never stop buying you a beer when we see you at unit reunions like Ranger Rendezvous or thanking you for your heroism, patriotism, and valor.

Thank you for all you have done for us, and for all you continue to do.

Copyright of Tommy



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