Memorial Day – a terrific idea: take a moment or two to appreciate the huge sacrifices members of our armed forces have made and continue to make, on our behalf. The least we can do to “repay the debt” we owe to these exceptional men and women.
But, this standard day of thanks doesn’t begin to address an even greater debt we Boomers have to pay, one that we must handle not one day a year, but as many days throughout the year as is necessary to right an egregious wrong we perpetrated.
To Vietnam Vets.
We have heavy reparations to make to these veterans, even Boomers who, like me, didn’t spit on them, curse at them, and call them “baby killers” when they came home from what was already an inherently hellful experience. Not “hellish” – that sufficiently describes more standard engagements in which you know which of the people you’re facing is in fact the enemy – hellful…complete with the draft so you went to war whether you wanted to or not, Agent Orange for permanent brain damage, and an ever changing theatre that guaranteed you could just as easily be slaughtering the “good guys” as the bad. And those who did engage in the spitting/cursing/venamous name-calling, you have a bit more work to do.
Too many of today’s homeless are Vietnam Vets; many of our fellow Boomers with undiagnosed PTSD are Vietnam Vets; far too few Vietnam Vets are getting the VA medical care they’ve earned and were refused.
As I heard that today the President is giving the highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, to those who have served all of us so exceptionally, I wondered how do they choose from what must be thousands of deserving recipients? In our case, we need not choose. We must bestow such an honor in our own way, each day, to our own generation’s Vets, for their extraordinary service, and as yet unending sacrifices.
I have and will continue to find ways to help and honor Vietnam Vets.
I ask all my fellow Boomers to do the same…and ardently hope you will.