In last week’s observance of the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2, it was easy to overlook the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War.
But in Washington ceremonies, Defense Sec. Ash Carter pointed out some hard lessons we had learned from ‘Nam, two in particular:
“First, we leave no one behind” he said. His department has over 650 people trying to find the missing from all our many wars...of which 1627 are still missing from Vietnam, as well as tens of thousands still unaccounted for from WW1,WW2, Korean and half a dozen other “police actions” and UN support actions across the world.
His second lesson is that we must “support our warriors, regardless of our feelings about the war.”
Amen to that, because the US did NOT welcome home the troops we sent to ‘Nam. In large part that was because America’s feelings supporting the war had changed, for many reasons. I’d like to think one of those reasons was because that war was illegal. Despite clear language in the Constitution, Congress never declared war---and hasn’t since WW2, oaths of office of members and the President to the contrary.
Maybe that’s why we view WW2 and ‘Nam so differently.
But Carter’s lessons are right, and in the DC ceremony he thanked the Vietnam veterans for their service, saying that today troops are welcomed home. (We may not give them the mental health aid they need for their trauma, or housing, or jobs as we promised, but Yes, we do welcome them home.)
A former defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, who is a Vietnam veteran, told the crowd that those who have experienced war know the truth—“There is no glory in war, only suffering.”
Bear these “lessons” in mind as we debate the wisdom of sending troops to Syria, or any one of a half dozen or more countries some in Washington are quick to call for troops when some event occurs that upsets us, violates our beliefs, or causes us great anguish. War is still war, and “war is hell.”
Let the lessons of ‘Nam be with us if we debate another possible war during the coming election.
I'm Just Sayin'...