by Melissa Martin
11/04/2011 / World Affairs
1965-When the Vietnam War started, I was a child in elementary school. When the Vietnam War ended, I was in eighth grade.
Nightly news seared a memory of this war into my brain until the TV channel changed. Returning to memories, I am still able to feel the permeated atmosphere of unrest, confusion, denial, sadness, anger, and horror even though war conversations were silent in the Appalachian hollow where I resided with my non-military family. Vaguely, I remember the drafting of Elvis, the Kent State shootings, the burning of the Washington Monument, and civilian anti-war demonstrations. When Nixon promised to end the war, a reawakening of hope vigilantly danced over the heartland. My adolescent mind and heart could not comprehend the shunning of America's courageous sons when they returned to the red, white, and blue soil of freedom. Decades later the scarred history books and politicians attempted to explain. Concreted in the 60's and 70's, a piece of my disillusioned innocence evermore remains.
As an adult and a counselor, I've been in the company of several Vietnam Veterans. Offering tears, listening, and gratitude are not enough. I cannot experience nor grasp their tormented suffering. I can only look to celestial places while holding tightly to my faith.
Recently I observed something at a parade that I had not witnessed before. About four men marched with a sign, "Vietnam Vets." My eyes misted up as I viewed these gutsy men dressed in jeans and tee-shirts. A rare moment in time that I shall not forget. Brave Americans, will you march in our parades so we may honor you?
Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.
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