It was a turbulent period in history--the end of World War II, the Korean War, the "Cold War", the Cuba Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy, the Tet Offensive of 1968, "body counts", Walter Cronkite’s erroneous pronouncement that the war was lost, the Democratic National Convention, anti-war protests, Black Panthers, the Cambodian incursion, Kent State shootings, drugs, free love, women’s liberation, Woodstock, Watergate-- and the media (primarily by television) showing all of this to us every day.
Although the American military excelled in almost everything it did on the battlefield; although U.S. forces killed more of the enemy than they killed of us; although we won almost every military engagement with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army; the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam and left the South to be taken by the North. The reasons why this happened are too complex to discuss here; but somehow in all the turbulence the U.S. soldier who did the brunt of the fighting under very difficult conditions was made a scapegoat for the U.S. not "winning" the war.
Vietnam veterans were treated like war criminals and made "scapegoats" when they returned home after risking life and limb and psyche for their country. The media and Congress contributed greatly to this, but they have never admitted their guilt and have never treated the Vietnam veterans as the heroes they really were. Instead, they made "heroes" out of the victims of the war such as the returning POWs we all saw getting off the plane and draft dodgers and anti-war protestors.
Vietnam veterans were no worse than any other soldiers in U.S. history. In fact, they were better. They kept Communism from spreading throughout Southeast Asia; hence, they accomplished their mission. In that respect, they won the war, and they certainly helped to drain the resources of the Communists thereby causing the collapse of the old Soviet Union.
Vietnam veterans, contrary to a grave misconception, were not prone to use drugs any more than non-veterans during the war years. As far as killing innocent civilians, less were killed than those killed by "collateral damage" during Desert Storm and Desert Fox. World War II veterans may have seen battles unfold on a larger scale than in Vietnam, but nothing rivaled Vietnam in the constancy of risk and the immediacy of danger. Infantrymen in Vietnam spent their days repeatedly sweeping the same terrain, capturing the same hills and hamlets, and sometimes got ambushed in the places they previously secured. That was the nature of the war as the nation’s leaders wanted it fought. Another interesting statistic is that in World War II 2/3 of the veterans were drafted while in the Vietnam War 2/3 of the veterans volunteered. Our World War II veterans are heroes, but our Vietnam Veterans are our heroes, too; and our country needs to say so, often.
One often hears about the Vietnam veteran who is a "loser", or down-and-outer, or cry baby, but most Vietnam veterans are not like that. They served their country bravely and honorably and returned to an ungrateful country and were maligned or ridiculed or worse, ignored. They went back to school or went to work and have been productive members of society.
REMEMBER AND APPRECIATE THE SERVICE OF VIETNAM VETERANS.