by Westbrook, Dec 30, 2008
We fought a ferocious war; many were wounded or died in Vietnam. We were boys who found ourselves fighting with no homeland support. It was as if we were outcasts, with no country. nly our families cared whether we would come home. We were hated in Vietnam and hated in our own country.
I proudly served in the United States Army's Big Red One (1st Infantry Division) at the age of 22.
The military taught me to be a killing machine and stuck me in the jungles of Vietnam.
Like most of us, I was a brave but sort of scared guy when I got to Vietnam, but ready to fight.
I will never forget the first time we were attacked and had to take cover, running over wounded and suffering American soldiers, some lying in water, missing limbs and moaning. It was then I knew what I was really involved in.
I served a term in hell. I realized and lived the constant agony of staying alive and the agony of taking lives. I smelled the scent of death, something no one can understand and cannot be explained.
I fought for my country; I took my turn to fight for our freedom, and the freedom of those in Vietnam who could not defend them selves. I didn’t run to Canada to avoid fighting for my country, or came up with some lame excuse not to go to Vietnam.
I spilled blood and realized the world is dangerous and many people around the world need help to be free from tyranny.
When I came home, I was NOT greeted as a hero. No one met me with open arms. No bands played for me. I was spit upon and cursed by hundreds of demonstrators.
I spent my first night in a hotel that didn't want me. People demonstrated all through the night as if I were a hated criminal. I could hear them calling me all the nasty and hateful names imaginable.
How do you think a young boy feels when he had just taken lives and was willing to give up his own for the people of his country, only to be treated as a hated criminal by those people?
I don't give a damn about people's politics and whether they agreed with the war or not. I do care that our - the American - people, committed the most atrocious and terrible sin of all, not supporting us and not thanking us for what we had done for them. They did more harm to us than any bullet or bomb could have done.
I am an American Veteran. I was not greeted with care, appreciation or love when I returned. I was greeted with hostility, cursed and spit upon. I couldn't even stay in a hotel without it being picketed.
Our country let us down and damaged many of us for life.
I have only had one person acknowledge me for what I did and what I was willing to give for my country and thanked me for it…years afterwards.
Vietnam Veterans have had their hearts and spirits broken. It seems no one cared for what we did. We found ourselves just fighting for each other in that war. Do not be surprised that if you ever have the occasion to thank a Vietnam veteran that he does not fall apart in tears.
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