• September 21, 2014

Vietnam veterans deserve our thanks

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Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 12:00 pm

For some Vietnam veterans, the war has been over for at least 40 years. For many others, it's been half a century since they served.

With that in mind, this week's Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans parade and related activities at Fort Hood may seem to be too little, too late.

But the planned ceremonies are anything but an afterthought.

The idea for the welcome-home events during Phantom Warrior Week originated with III Corps and Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell Jr. Campbell's father served in Vietnam, and like so many other Vietnam veterans, he didn't receive the hero's welcome accorded our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet the service of those who fought in Vietnam is every bit as honorable as those who saw duty during Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom.

As such, they deserve the same gratitude and appreciation bestowed on today's generation of soldiers.

And that's the purpose behind this week's Phantom Warrior Week ceremonies.

On Monday, these deserving veterans will take part in a Welcome Home Parade at the post's famed Sadowsky Field.

Over the next three days, the Vietnam veterans will take part in a prayer breakfast and golf tournament, and are invited to watch several sporting events as active-duty soldiers vie for the Commanders Cup. On the final day, they will have the opportunity to join III Corps' soldiers in a Pass in Review.

The week's activities promise to be filled with fun and camaraderie for all who take part. And as of midday Friday, more than 600 veterans had signed up.

Sadly, however, some Vietnam veterans will not be attending, as they are no longer with us.

But some of their widows will be on post this week, representing their late husbands, a Fort Hood public affairs spokesman noted. And one Iraq War veteran will be standing in for his dad.

Over the past 20 years, since the start of Operation Desert Shield, our community has consistently shown its support for Fort Hood's soldiers and their families.

We have the opportunity to do so again this week - for a generation of soldiers who may not have received that support or even a proper welcome home.

Some may argue that the time for such recognition has passed, that it's not enough.

That's an understandable sentiment. And much as we'd like, we can't totally erase the hurts caused by the indifference or resentment shown to our soldiers in decades past.

But it's never too late to say "thank you."

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