40 Years after Vietnam War, Lessons Linger

By the Th Media Board | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), April 19, 2015 | Go to article overview

40 Years after Vietnam War, Lessons Linger


the Th Media Board, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


where we stand Vietnam was a war like none preceding it, and there remain lessons to be learned from it.Today's front-page report carries the somber tones of area veterans as they recall the end of the Vietnam War, which took place 40 years ago this month.

Their recollections remind us of one of the great shames of U.S. history: The way America initially treated its military veterans of Vietnam.

Vietnam painted a very different picture of war than the one Americans had come to know. World War I and World War II rallied the American spirit and united citizens at home behind the effort. Those wars ended with parades and its veterans, rightfully, celebrated and honored as heroes.

Vietnam was different in nearly every way. Absent a congressional declaration of war, it was technically a "conflict" rather than a war. That designation came to feel like a slight to veterans who fought in the "conflict" that cost 3 million lives - including 58,000 Americans.

It was fought in the jungle, with Americans facing guerrilla tactics, and combat was intense. While experts estimate the average infantryman saw about 40 days of combat in four years during WWII, the figure was 240 days of combat in the average year in Vietnam, where the conflict spanned nearly two decades.

Television reports brought the war into U.S. living rooms, providing a close-up view that shocked many of us. American dead and wounded were not images we were prepared to see.

The war stirred huge, vocal protests across the country. Veterans returning home after serving their country too often were disrespected and subjected to verbal and physical assault and abuse from their own countrymen.

The end of the war, which occurred with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, was markedly different than the end of other wars. There was no victory for Americans to celebrate. Many veterans were angry to see the U. …

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