Disrespect for the Vietnam War Vets

By | August 13, 2020

[August 13, 2020]  I’m old enough to remember seeing – with my own eyes – the terrible treatment of our Vietnam War vets when returning from war.  When I joined the U.S. Army in late 1974, I made myself a promise that I would not tolerate such egregious behavior by anyone.  The treatment these veterans received was unacceptable then and as much as it is now.

I did not serve in the Vietnam War.  But I had three years of combat in Iraq, and I know the battlefield and I know my history.   Neither will I forget how our own citizens treated these men and women.  Like so many of us, those who served were raised to honor veterans.  What a horrific turnaround in attitudes our society experienced then and now.

I’m not aware of many Vietnam vets who were not subject to some form of disrespect.  They were spat upon, called “baby killers,” and were stereotyped as dangerous drug addicts.  They were shamed and embarrassed.  Their property was vandalized.  This happened; it’s a fact.

Yet, I read about how the treatment of Vietnam vets was not disrespectful and that somehow all this is status-quo-sustaining fables.1,2  War myths, they tell us.  Move along; there is no story here; we are told.  An attempt by a small number of historians, politicians, and Hollywood elites are actively rewriting history.   This cannot stand without pushback by those who know better.

Today, in our turbulent times, we are witnessing something similar happening to Police officers.  They are treated as goose-stepping pseudo-Nazis.  Frozen water-bottles, Molotov cocktails, and bricks have recently been thrown at police in Chicago, Portland, Seattle, New York, and other large cities.  “Defund the Police” has become a rallying cry of those who want to tear down our system of governance.

Anytime a society turns on its veterans and police, the results are not pretty.  Protests (peaceful and violent), looting, arson, murder, rape, and a host of violence against people and property are the inevitable end.  It happened in the 1960s and is happening again today.  Only those who are brave enough, those with the spine of a leader will stand in their way.  Who among us will stand in their way?

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  1. https://www.startribune.com/the-myth-of-the-spat-upon-war-veteran/157945515/
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/opinion/myth-spitting-vietnam-protester.html
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Disrespect for the Vietnam War Vets

  1. Terry Johnson

    It was disgusting and – frankly – immoral the way our vets were treated. If you are one of those who treated them badly, at least step up and admit it. I’m one of the newer readers of this leadership blog and love the articles, reading the forums, and discussing leadership topics. Thanks everyone for being part of my life and leadership roles. Oh, I’m 17 years old.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Welcome Terry. I believe you will find this forum a healthy place to discuss leadership roles and life’s unexpected turns.

  2. Len Jakosky

    IMHO, to bring up the disgrace that of so many that treated our veterans so poorly is proper and right. Do so at least annually. We need reminding of what evil looks like and those that spat at or attempted to hurt our returning war veterans deserve a hell for the rest of their lives and in hell.

    1. Tony B. Custer

      Darryl, are you a vet? Correct, good article and informative. Spike Lee did all of us a favor.

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        No Tony, I’m not a vet. But my dad was in Vietnam as well as my uncle Joe. Many stories. Too many for here. But what I can tell you is that my dad and uncle will never vote for a Democrat because of what they did to incite protests against us.

    1. Scotty Bush

      Excellent short article for the uninitiated on this topic.

    2. Xerxes I

      Quotable quote from article. Read it over and over.
      “The society really was ill-prepared to give these guys what they deserved,” says Christian Appy, professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of three books on Vietnam. “They were not necessarily looking for a parade, but they were certainly looking for basic human support and help in readjusting to civilian life after this really brutal war.”

  3. Linux Man

    Super article. Thanks Gen. Satterfield. Sometimes the obvious needs to be told so that we never forget.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Yes, and retold over and over to our young so they can carry on the tradition. That is one reason I chose High School teaching as a profession.

  4. Doc Blackshear

    Our veterans should be honored, period. They gave up everything. They should be held up as an example of what is right about our society. Our Vietnam Vets deserve more.

  5. Nick Lighthouse

    I agree with Gen. Satterfield completely on this. We have a problem in the US, one that is not so obvious. There is an underlying element that wants to destroy our culture and our history. Why? I don’t know. That’s for more smart people to figure out. But I would like to see it stopped. If a person doesn’t like the US, then they can move to N. Korea, Russia, or China which might be better to their liking. But, please, don’t stay here and create problems for the rest of us.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Right on! Well said, Nick. I will add that if you don’t like America, there is nothing stopping you from leaving. Note how many of the Hollywood types left after they promised they would leave for Canada if Trump was elected president. ZERO left. I would be happy to buy them a first class airline ticket if they would just leave (oh, one-way ticket).

  6. Gil Johnson

    Intriguing article this morning for my reading pleasure. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield.

  7. Kenny Foster

    I also see a similar pattern in denigrating our police (local and federal, including ICE). Who among us are doing this? Call them out! Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shumar, and many others. Why is it only Democrats doing this? I can understand any specific political figure doing this based on their own conviction (and they should be defeated in their upcoming election) but why only the Democratic Party? Shame on them.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Something is definitely wrong with such people, Kenny. Let’s call a spade, a spade. Democrats are about political power so they can do as they please and be our superiors. That way they have a cushy job, are immune from the laws they pass, and are rich living the grand lifestyle while the rest of us toil away.

      1. Newbie Yunger

        Sad but very true. For a long time, for example, there is a two-tiered justice system in America. The rich politicians and the rest of us.

      2. Dennis Mathes

        Yes, but they say its all about the children…. ha ha ha ha.

  8. Tom Bushmaster

    We failed utterly as a society to treat these men (mostly) and women (rarely) as returning Vietnam War vets. Shame upon us.

    1. Georgie B.

      It’s past time to name names. Who did this treatment of our vets so horribly? Are there any politicians around we can name?

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