We in America set aside today to remember our war fighters over the years. All of the male members of my daddy’s generation and further back were servicemen–those were the years of the compulsory draft.
My daddy’s service was a special case–the Vietnam War wasn’t actually a war–it was a “police action” by the President, undeclared by Congress. That distinction was serious back then–they couldn’t access full VA benefits since they weren’t considered “war” veterans. The doors of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations were closed to them. And the unpopularity of the war among the public precluded them being welcomed home as heroes.
One of my daddy’s friends talked him into coming to a American Legion meeting one night during the late 70’s. My mom and I went as well. I remember the roll call–asking the World War I veterans to stand, then the WWII. Then those of the Korean War. Then they stopped.
My daddy said coming home in the car, “Well, that’s the end of that.” My mom said, “Well, maybe they didn’t realize you were there.” He didn’t answer. He felt that slight very keenly and didn’t set foot in an American Legion meeting again until the 2000’s.
For all who have served, war or not, undeclared or not, I salute you today.