Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Only a Few Weeks Remaining

As my departure date grew closer, I became more nervous about the possibility of dying or being wounded seriously. All soldiers experienced these emotions as their one year tour of duty approached completion.

I began to hear reports of soldiers returning to the United States to a growing segment of unappreciative people. I heard of some being spat upon by protesters meeting them at airports.

Many years later an exhibit at The Sawtooth Center for Visual Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina displayed a collection of still pictures depicting the Vietnam War veterans from the triad area of North Carolina. The exhibit included sixty pictures by veterans and their comments from interviews with exhibit organizers. The collection is called A Thousand Words and has traveled around the area since its first showing.

When I toured the exhibit, I read a comment on a poster that went something like this as one veteran remarked about his return trip from Vietnam. He said "I flew from San Francisco to Atlanta and then to Greensboro. Not one person on the planes or in the airports spoke a word to me." In other words no citizen expressed welcome home, thank you, any interest or concern whatsoever by anyone.

It astounds me how the general populace in our country ignores its warriors. I believe if it were not for VFW members celebrating each other and the United States government's observance ceremonies of Veterans Day holidays, there would be little acknowledgement of our country's defenders. Some churches do a good job recognizing people who put themselves in harm's way for perceived national interests that our government decides are necessary.

I sense similar unappreciative attitudes about first responders like firemen, policemen and other emergency personnel. My observation has been that these sentiments seem most present among people who consider themselves professional, executive, educated, or wealthy. I rarely see these people going out of their way to attend parades, services or ceremonies. It is very strange to me that the World War II generation produced such an abundant crop of uncaring and thankless offspring.

Not all people act this way, but I feel there are many thankless people ensconced in powerful and influential positions.

My final post about this period in history will be in two days when I describe my homecoming.

Return here on Thursday, October 19 for an update.

Have a good day!



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