Remembering our veterans who fought for our freedom

HPIM1959

Three Vietnam Veterans who fought and served during the war

HPIM1965

Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 24, 2013

HPIM1955

Huey helicopter used during Vietnam War for combat missions and for transporting troops to and from battle zones

Last Friday my husband and I viewed the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall with the 58, 261 names on it of soldiers who died in one of the longest and least understood wars of our country. The traveling wall is 80 %  the original size of the one in Washington, DC and the largest one made for the sole purpose of being transported and set up at cities around the country so it can be viewed on Memorial Day.  Fort Collins, a city seven miles north of mine in Northern Colorado was happy to  host the traveling wall for this particular Memorial Day. It is provided and set up by the American Veterans Tribute organization based in Flint, Tx. With this display came some other things not often seen by the public, yet just as impressive. One was the Huey helicopter used in combat missions and for transporting troops to and from the battle zones during the war between 1965-1975.  My husband, Wayne and I were eighteen in 1965 when the draft was implemented and men were called up to serve. Unless one was enrolled in a four-year college, physically disabled, or married with children there was little chance of being exempt from serving. My husband was placed in the exempt status because he was enrolled in a seminary in 1966-1970 and was required to achieve and retain a 3.5 GPA while in school. We were married in 1966 and he remained in the exempt status throughout school and after. Other friends and classmates were not as fortunate and were drafted and sent into the war. The U.S. was pulled into the war to help the South Vietnamese retain their democratic hold over the fight with the North Vietnamese Communist regime and the Viet Cong. But, the war was lost for the South Vietnamese with the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) conquering all, moving in and gaining control on April 30, 1975. It was a war that was unpopular to begin with and caused such political conflict within congress and the current presidential administrations that when the war was over and our surviving soldiers and nurses came home, many were treated with disdain and left destitute while trying to find a job and start over and many more left with disabling injuries for the rest of their lives.

In 1998 when Wayne and I vacationed on the east coast and visited the war memorial sites in Washington, DC, we saw the original beautiful granite wall memorial there. It is one of the most moving ones I have ever seen. Once again, this time while viewing the traveling wall it was a very solemn and emotional time as names were read, taps played, one playing the bagpipes while marching slowly before the wall, and the 21 gun salute heard, the service ending with a prayer from a chaplain. This Memorial Day tribute with included photos here is to honor those vets who served and fought, and for those who died in this war.

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Joyce E. Johnson

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