My Heartfelt Thanks to AllVeterans

their families

Veterans Day 2012

Hoi B. Tran

Veterans Day 2012is only a few days away.Every yearthat went by since the end of the Viet Nam War in April 1975, public opinion inthe U.S.towards Viet Nam Veterans, gradually and constantly changed.Unlike the time I came to America as a political refugee after the fall ofthe Republic of (South) Viet Nam thirty-seven years ago, people loathed VietNam Veterans and treated them disrespectfully.

Fortunately, thatill-conceived attitude, despicable behavior towards Viet Nam Veterans in thepast has changed.

Recently I ranacross some excellent articles on the internet and, I feel extremely happy to postthem on my Website to share with my American brothers-in-arms. I am sure thesearticles would bring great consolation to many of you.

On ourtraditional Veterans Day in the U.S.,I want to sincerely thank all Veterans and their families, past and present,for your service and your sacrifice to help us in Viet Nam and to protect and defend thisgreat nation of ours.

I also wish totake this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Veterans ofAustralia, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand for helping us in ourlegitimate self-defense against the North Vietnamese communist invaders.

God bless youall,

Hoi B. Tran

Attitudes towards Veteranshave changed

the better

By Matt Bunke -on November 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

This Sunday, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook willsurely light up with messages thanking military personnel — both past andpresent — for their service. Restaurants around the country will offerfree meals to those who have served, retail stores will offer discounts, citieswill host parades and NFL games will almost certainly include tributes to thetroops.

It will be well-deserved Veterans Day recognition for the selflessmen and women who have defended our country over the years. But to many, thistype of love, gratitude and pride — at least at these current levels— is something of a relatively recentphenomenon. While gratitude for our troops has been building for decades, thelevel of pride seems to be at an all-time high today.

Watertown resident and Vietnam veteran Steve Duske agrees.To him, pride in our nation’s military has never been greater.

“I can’t put my finger on what caused the change, butI’ll tell you, it sure has changed,” Duske said of recent attitudestoward soldiers and veterans. “If I wear a hat, people thank me. If theyfind out I was in Vietnam,they come up to me and thank me for my service. That means so much tome.”

However, Duske, like other Vietnam veterans, doesn’thave to think long or hard to recall a time when veterans didn’t receivethat same kind of gratitude. Not only were returning Vietnam vets not greeted with therespect and thanks they deserved, most were greeted with anger and hostility.

“Some people made us feel like the crumbled cookie on thebottom of the bag, like we were a bunch of murders or killers, that we chose togo over there and that we were a bunch of warmongers” Watertown residentand Vietnam Navy veteran Mike Nash said. “For awhile, I didn’t wantto have anything to do with letting anybody know I was a Vietnam vet.”

Duske says he felt the same way. For decades, he tried to hide thefact that he was a Vietnamvet, only starting to wear his Cavalry hat about 4 years ago. Duske, who servedtwo terms in the Army in Vietnam,said it was especially difficult watching the 1991 ticker tape parade in New York for returningGulf War veterans. For him, that moment brought painful memories of his own returnto the U.S.back to the surface.

“When they had the ticker tape parade in New York, I sat on the corner of my bed andcried,” Duske said. “I looked at the heroes who came back from thatshort war, and they were given a parade. I snuck home. There was nobody at theairport. I took a taxi home.”

The Gulf War, and the response the soldiers got, likely played asignificant role in the start of the changing attitudes toward soliders andveterans, though Duske said he’s noticed the biggest change in the past 3or 4 years. Others, however, like Watertownresident and Vietnamvet Rick DeNomme, said the change really began to occur about 20 years ago. Nomatter when attitudes toward veterans really began to change, all can agreethat it’s clear that those perceptions are far different today than theywere 40 years ago.

“I think super comparedto what it used to be,” DeNomme said of the general public’sperception of veterans and active duty personnel. “It’s beenoutstanding. I wear my stuff a lot showing I’m a veteran, and there arealways people coming up and thanking me, which is a very good feeling.”

It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what has caused thischange in attitudes over the years, or this mostrecent surge in patriotism in particular. The popularization of social mediamay be at least partially responsible in making young people more aware of thesacrifices veterans have made for their country, while simultaneously givingthem an outlet to publicly express their gratitude. Others say the mainstreammedia has also played a role.

“It’s been made more visible to the general public,the sacrifices that military people make,” said Nash, who lost four toesand part of his foot during an accident on an aircraft carrier off the coast ofVietnam.“Whether they’re reserves or regular military, there are a lot ofsacrifices made for the public, and more people talk about them more now.There’s better communication from news media about the military, andthere’s more honesty about it.”

None of the Vietnamveterans contacted for this story say they harbor any resentment for the waythey were treated upon their return to the United States. Nash said he carriedsome resentment at first, but that it softened over the years because he nowfeels the American public has realized and accepted that “Vietnamvets got the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” While he once tried to hide his Vietnamservice from others, he now takes pride in his service, and even has tags onhis license plates.

“Over the years I realized that I was wrong in trying gothide it,” Nash said. “There’s not a stigma anymore associatedwith being a Vietnamvet. I’m proud of what I did.”

DeNomme said he believes the way he and other Vietnam vets were treated in the1970s is actually one of the biggest reasons for the heightened level ofawareness and gratitude today. He said the suffering veterans like himself wereforced to endure in some ways might serve as a lesson and a reminder for theway veterans should be treated today.

“I’m very proud that we were a part of getting thatchanged,” DeNomme said.

Duske echoed DeNomme’s sentiments, saying he takes everychance he gets to say thank you.

“If f I see somebody coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan, I walk right up tothem and give them a hug and say ‘thanks for your service”, Duskesaid. “We never had that. You don’t know what that means to anindividual. For these last 4 years, I’m proud to be a Vietnam vet. People come up to meand thank me, and I never got that before. “It took all this time, 40years, but hopefully it’s the Vietnam era thatmade that happen.”