Sunday, April 1, 2012

Finally, Separating The Politics Of War From Those Who Were Sent To Fight It

Harold Dooley, a Vietnam Veteran from Harrisburg, NC, hugs his wife after finding the name of Frank Tafoya on the Moving Wall, the traveling half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on display at the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dooley was a Sgt. Track Commander with the 4th Infantry Division and 10th Armored Calvary, and Tafoya was one of his gunmen. Dooley recalled, "He was 18 years old. He said he joined the Army to see the world." Dooley was in Vietnam from 1966 until he was injured by a land mine on Friday, January 13, 1967; an injury for which he received the Purple Heart. When he came home, the only ones who welcomed him home were family members. On being at the homecoming celebration at the Charlotte Motor Speedway today and being able to find Frank Tafoya's name and place his hand on it, Dooley said, with tears in his eyes, "I feel like I made contact with him."   Photo courtesy Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez, The Charlotte Observer

They didn’t want strangers to know where they had been, so many Vietnam veterans stopped on their way home from serving to buy new civilian clothing and either burn or throw away their uniforms.  Many, upon their return home, were spat upon.

While they served in a protracted war, the American people were waging their own war at home against the U.S. government.

On Saturday, March 31, 2012 thousands of veterans displayed evidence of their service donning ball caps, t-shirts and leather vests at the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  On this day, strangers came up to them to thank them for their service.

Forty years later, those who attended the homecoming showed those who had once been so unfairly hated that there would finally be peace for them.

Once, they didn’t want anyone to know where they had been.  Now, they stand proudly among the rest of us.  It’s about time.

I would ask all of you when you see a Vietnam vet or any vet, tell them you appreciate their sacrifice, their service and their courage.  God bless our troops.  May they never again have war waged against them by their own countrymen.

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