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 Texas : Features : Columns : Lone Star Diary :

All Veterans Should Be Honored

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery

I cannot imagine an experience more horrible than being a participant in a war – any war. The smell of death and the sight of people being blown to pieces is something that only those who have been there can relate to.

And who is to say that one war was more horrendous than another or that one battle exceeds another in brutality? War is hell on earth and those of us who are fortunate enough not to have those dreadful memories of death and destruction entrenched in our minds should honor every single one of those brave souls who have endured the terrible cruelty of combat.

The veterans of World War II were instrumental is saving this country, and the entire world, from domination by Germany and Japan. They have been labeled, “The Greatest Generation,” and they certainly merit that title.

But since that time, including the present, this country has been involved in other wars and in these wars; the participants have also fought in bloody battles, not unlike what the veterans of World War II experienced, and their sacrifice was just as enormous.

The problem is, however, that the veterans of these later wars have not received the tribute that is due them for serving their country. They did not come home to brass bands and ticker-tape parades, courtesy of a grateful nation. Instead, they have been virtually ignored by many of the people they so honorably served.

The Korean War has been called a “police action,” but I seriously doubt that the veterans of the Battle at Chosin Reservoir, Pusan, and the Battle for Seoul, thought they were involved in a mere police action. Not when nearly 40,000 of their fellow soldiers died in the frozen landscape of Korea.

Some call Korea the “forgotten war,” and although it has been forgotten by many, you can bet those who served there will never forget.

And in my opinion, the veterans of Vietnam have really received a raw deal. They served during a time when many Americans opposed the war. People took to the streets and demonstrated; returning soldiers were spit upon, called baby killers, and were not honored for serving their country. Some soldiers would actually change out of their uniforms to avoid these confrontations.

But just like veterans of other wars, those who participated in the Vietnam War still carry those same awful memories of the bloody scenes they witnessed at places called Loc Ninh, An Loc, Quang Tri, and many others. These veterans returned home with indelible images still in their minds of dead comrades being placed in body bags and pulled from the steamy jungles of Vietnam. Over 58,000 brave soldiers died in this so-called “unpopular war.” As if any war could be popular.

People seem to forget that the soldiers who fought in Vietnam won nearly every battle they were engaged in. It has long been my opinion that they were not allowed to do the things that could have won the war, mainly because of political pressure to end it. But veterans of Vietnam can hold their heads high; they performed admirably and their sacrifice was just as great as those experienced by soldiers of any war.

At the present time, there are young Americans risking their lives in the Middle East. They are experiencing the same atrocious things that soldiers in all wars have had to endure. Those who are serving in our armed forces today are doing an exceptional job and we should let them know we appreciate it, at every opportunity.

We should spare no expense in seeing that veterans are aptly compensated for serving this country. Be it medical care, rehabilitation programs, or anything else for that matter. They earned it, and they are entitled to it. Those who complain about veterans receiving benefits more than likely never served in the military.

I believe that those individuals who have taken time out of their lives to defend this nation should be appropriately honored. If they wore the uniform and did their duty, that is all that matters. And it should make absolutely no difference when, where, or how they served.

© Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary August 8 , 2008 Column

Related Topics: People | World War II | World War I |

 
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