Have you ever personally thanked Vietnam veterans for their service and sacrifice? Now is your chance.
Vietnam-era vets still remember the shameful way they were treated when they came home from war. Their fathers who fought in World War II were given parades and lauded as the “Greatest Generation.” The Viet vets were met by brazen radicals who screamed “Baby-killers!” and spat on them. The vast majority of Americans - told by politicians and the press that the war in Southeast Asia was immoral and unwinnable - either did not understand how to honor the troops or were bullied into keeping private their pride in the achievements of our armed forces in that difficult conflict. Even today, the Vietnam veterans shake their heads in stoic sorrow over the treatment they received at the hands of their fellow citizens. All they ever wanted was to hear “Thank you.”
Fifty years after the war began, Americans have an opportunity to help right this wrong. On Memorial Day, Veterans in Defense of Liberty (VIDOL) is launching a yearlong Vietnam Veterans Thank You Card From America campaign. “The purpose of this nationwide effort is to repay that long-overdue debt of gratitude owed by our great nation to these deserving American heroes,” Executive Director W. Scott Magill, a former Marine noncommissioned officer and a Vietnam veteran, explains. “It is not political, accusatory or apologetic. It is solely for the purpose of finally doing the right thing while many Vietnam Veterans are still alive.”
VIDOL seeks to collect signatures on peel-and-stick labels inside small cards, which then will be affixed to the official thank-you card, which will be large enough for millions of signatures. The organization seeks to set a world record for the most such signatures ever collected. The card reads, “To the heroic men and women who served in America’s military during the Vietnam War: Thank you for your service and sacrifices. Thank you for answering when your country called. Thank you for bringing honor to our great nation and its awesome military. We salute you, and will honor your memory for as long as the United States of America exists. God bless you.”
The campaign kicks off May 28 during the Rolling Thunder rally at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Actress and singer Connie Stevens serves as honorary chairman for the campaign. Vietnam veterans are officially represented by Eddie R. Beesley, an enlisted Marine who lost both his legs in the war and recorded his combat experiences in the memoir “Lucky Enough.” On Memorial Day 2013, the completed card will be escorted from Branson, Mo., to be presented to the nation at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The small greeting cards will be spread on the walk before the Wall as a gesture of gratitude to the war’s fallen. They will then be collected and housed in the memorial’s official archives.
James S. Robbins is a senior editorial writer at The Washington Times and author of “This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive” (Encounter, 2010).