[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?