As of Tuesday, June 20, 2017
“I don’t care who served when, for how long, doing what. They did their job. Every piece of the puzzle was important. Every person from every branch contributed.”
This quote comes from Dennis Moore, who served in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam, 1965-66. He’s among several interviewed in the Idaho County Free Press this week concerning their experiences as part of the upcoming 50th commemoration of the war.
The national commemoration marks Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, as the period to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. U.S. involvement in Vietnam started slowly with an initial deployment of advisors in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965. The last U.S. personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975.
Locally, Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day was proclaimed for Sunday, June 25, by Grangeville Mayor Bruce Walker. As part of this, the Idaho County Veterans Outreach and Community Center will be honoring veterans with a recognition day and welcome home ceremony.
Certainly, the Vietnam War was a watershed event for the U.S. that has been covered and recovered in books and movies, in documentaries and recorded interviews. It caused deep division in our nation with scars that time has not been able to fully heal.
Unfortunately, through all that controversy, those who served in the conflict took the brunt of the anger and frustration of the political headbutting. It was a first for the nation to have our soldiers being vilified and ignored in public; a shunning that made it shameful to be seen in uniform, to have served in an honorable profession of public service.
This national commemoration provides an opportunity for reconciliation, to separate the politics from the persons, and in some small measure to provide peace for those men and women who served, as well as for those whose passions overrode them during those divisive years. And for those generations for whom the war is not a part of their experience or history, here’s an opportunity to put a human face to it.
It’s a shame such recognition comes a half-century late; God forgive us for the time we have wasted. But peace is still ours to give, as well as to receive.