Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vietnam Outrage Continues

Vietnam Vets Left Out in Cold Again
Today, as we commemorate the men and women of our military for the incredible bravery and sacrifice that is responsible for the blessings of our nation, I would like to begin on a positive note by offering my deepest gratitude to each and every one of them. That gratefulness is extended to the living and the dead, as well as the young and the old.

I am saddened, however, that the gradual transition of attitudes in my country has left behind - and even insulted - so many who deserve the same level of respect. It began with the Korean War, which to this day is still neither considered an actual "war", nor an action that is technically over. That particular action has remained in official "cease-fire" status for six decades.

Veterans of the Korean War do not enjoy the benefits - for whatever they're worth - of other veterans of "actual" wars. They do not qualify for membership in local VFW organizations where they live, nor are they offered a military flag upon their deaths. My father-in-law, a Korean War vet, passed away a few years ago, and as we prepared for his final resting, I wanted him to have a flag for his service. I was prepared to buy a flag to drape his coffin. It wasn't necessary.

Another soldier, himself a veteran of the Army as a Ranger, procured one on my father-in-law's behalf, and from the United States Army. In an act of camaraderie that touched me in ways I cannot describe, that soldier  not only obtained the flag my father-in-law should never have had to ask for, but he presented it at the burial in military tradition, while in full dress uniform. That young man was not yet my son-in-law, but would eventually marry my daughter. My thanks for his initiative - nor my astonishment at this selfless act - can never be adequately expressed.

Yet, while that memory is seared in my mind forever, it serves as a constant reminder of the indignity it suggests for those without the loving and devoted family such as mine, without which many are relegated to oblivion forever, their sacrifices discarded and bravery forgotten without reverence, simply because of callous bureaucrats so absorbed in their political careers that they have long dismissed the very reasons for their existence.

The Vietnam veterans have likewise been betrayed by the country they served, and continue in that vein. Their long-overdue Wall in Washington was the culmination of not only their continuing battle, but that of their civilian support team; grateful patriots. My friends from that war have told me that it only relieved some of the sting of the shameful reception they endured upon their return to the country for which they fought.

So every year we have Veterans' Day, a time when we offer our thanks to those brave souls, hold parades for them, and now, in the electronic age, pay tribute to them all over the Internet. Sadly, what still eludes the "Vietnam Alumni" is the recognition they have never been given by the body that sent them to that Hell, a Hell that they faced with valor, and for which they were greeted upon their return as villains.

Yesterday, Jim Robbins of the Washington Times wrote an article that should make all of us sick. Robbins reports that Congress, two years ago, authorized the Pentagon to move forward with plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War to "thank and honor" those veterans. Finally, justice would be served, right? Not so fast.

A commission was formed to make all of this happen in the "spirit of the intent of Congress". From Robbins' piece in the Washington Times:

The Defense Department also was charged with coordinating, supporting and facilitating "other programs and activities of the Federal Government, State and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War." The proposed budget for the commemorations was $100 million, which was less than the amount spent on the World War II and Korean War commemoration efforts. For example, the 1984 commemoration of the Normandy landings alone cost $38 million.
The idea was to have a series of commemorations that would begin in 2009, 50 years after the July 8, 1959, Viet Cong attack at Bien Hoa killed Army Maj. Dale R. Buis and Master Sgt. Chester M. Ovnand, the first two names on the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The commemorations were slated to continue until 2025 and the 50th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.
In other words, the cost of this belated expression of appreciation was to cost us an average of just over $3.8 million per year, if my math is correct. And yet, the man given oversight over the anniversary commission for the Vietnam veterans has slammed on the brakes, claiming "fiscal restraint". That man is Michael L. Rhodes, director of administration and management at the Pentagon.

Just this week it was announced by our Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, that the United States (that would be you and me) will be giving the Palestinian Authority $150 million. At a time when the economy is paramount in all of our minds.

So on Veterans' Day, keep in mind that in the New America, we can happily deny - once again - the honor of our veterans from the Vietnam War because of costs, but we can send $150 million to the Palestinian Authority without qualm.

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carmar76 said...

seriously outrageous.

Edisto Joe said...

Washington has a way of setting priorities that none of us will ever understand. It's sad to think that after the memorial was dedicated and a couple of box office hits, "Platoon" and "Hamburger Hill" Vietnam didn't see any other recognition until John "Swift Boat" Kerry ignited a new controversy over that war. Korea and Vietnam are our forgotten wars and that is just wrong. Thank you for posting this and I hope all who read it are outraged enough to let their people in Congress know.