I am old enough to recall the anti-Vietnam War takeover of Central Michigan University’s ROTC building.
When on active duty at the Pentagon, I viewed thousands of anti-war protesters from my fourth-floor window.
I recall two- or three-day-old television nightly news films covering the war.
At Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base, I saw stainless steel, flag-draped caskets returning the remains of soldiers, sailors, marines, Air Force personnel, and Coast Guard members to American soil.
Vivid in my mind: the April 29 and 30, 1975 film and photographs of Americans and Vietnamese fleeing Saigon from the U. S. Embassy roof. Passenger-filled boats and helicopters met offshore U.S. Navy ships.
Years later, I met the Saigon deputy police chief featured in a worldwide-shown photo of him shooting a captured North Vietnamese prisoner in the head.
I had personal friends returning from the war face intense hate and scorn.
Five times, I visited the Memorial Wall, located near the Lincoln Memorial. I intensely sobbed as
I viewed the 58,156 names. Two of the names I personally knew.
Later, in my health care career, I saw the physical and mental damage that war created.
From August 1965 to May 1975, nearly 3.5 million military personnel served in Southeast Asia.
Nearly a third of those serving were drafted into active duty. The average military member’s age was 19.
From Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Presque counties, 22 residents perished in that war. Their names are cited locally at Little Flanders Field and municipal and veterans buildings.
Vietnam Veterans of America research reveals that, of those who served in Vietnam, 88.4% were white, 10.6% were black, with 1% representing other races.
The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs states well over 265,000 women served in Vietnam.
Those of us who served during that era are now well into our 60s and 70s.
Additional research from the Vietnam Veterans of America revealed 82% of veterans who saw heavy combat believe we lost the war because of a lack of political will. Coupled with that research group, 90% stated they were proud to have served, with 66% commenting they would again serve.
Eighty-seven percent of the American public now view Vietnam-era veterans with high esteem.
It was an ugly and sad era for America. The popular music of the 1960s and 70s reflected the angst of this war.
As we approach this anniversary, should you have a family member or friend who served during the Vietnam era, render them a hand salute, thank them, and toss in a hug.