Their experiences were definitive in the years after, the impact striking far past the initial ripples in their life. It was a catalytic force in the soldiers’ livelihoods, and the anti-war movement failed to find the balance between protest and disrespect towards the sacrifices of the veterans.
Through the aftermath of the Vietnam War, we can learn about the proper role of a civilian during a time of war.
They are not the figures voting for the “Christmas Bombing” or advocating for the usage of Agent Orange.
The only decision these soldiers made was to serve their country, to fight in an unpopular war in order to preserve the American values of loyalty, freedom, and democracy.
Punahou School Army Junior ROTC Cadet Emily Wu was recognized at the Association of the U. Army’s LANPAC Symposium and Exposition for being the national first-place award winner in an essay contest sponsored by the Vietnam War Commemoration, a U. government group formed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war. Civilians at home based their opinions on a single biased perspective, often focusing on other facets of the war instead of what truly mattered: the soldiers.
“The greatest mistake that can be made by citizenry of the 21st century is the sin of forgetting,” she writes. The veterans were spit upon, jeered at, and rejected by the country they sacrificed so much for.
Hawaii 5-O, a popular TV show from our island, showed countless animosity-filled episodes that picked on returning veterans.
The Vietnam generation forgot how to respect their military.
Soldiers weren’t greeted by the fanfare of previous wars, but veterans like W. Ehrhart recalled that for the two instances he returned home, “neither occasion was I confronted by civilians out to denigrate and abuse me”.
Peaceful protesters and certain supporters of the war followed the path of the initial stages of the anti-war movement.