SAN JOSE, November 11, 2016 —Americans celebrate Veteran’s Day today and many government employees will benefit as they get an extra day off from work. Hopefully, all Americans could take some time over the three day weekend to express a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for our nation’s veterans.
Unfortunately, it is not necessarily a given that there is a common sentiment of respect toward those who have served in the military of the United States in 2016.
Despite sentiment from those with little appreciation or respect from some quarters of the country, the U.S. military is what may keep the chaotic and destructive forces throughout the world in check. Without the U.S. entry into the Great War in 1917, that horrendous conflict may have had quite a different outcome, resulting in lasting adverse repercussions and reverberations throughout the world community from that period in time. In World War II, the U.S. military faced even greater challenges to help in preventing even worse worldwide peril. At the end of those incredible global conflicts, Americans had little difficulty welcoming her embattled veterans back home.
However, after the Vietnam War, there was a serious change of sentiment towards America’s veterans. To many Americans younger than the age of 50, it may be hard to understand that there was any significant difference. The animosity and disrespect toward the nation’s military has been fairly pervasive in their lifetimes, depending their exposure to such sentiments on college campuses, or in antagonistic or unsympathetic communities, or in facing adversarial anti-war personalities. But during and after America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, there was a notable difference in public sentiment towards returning veterans. Some veterans were cursed and spit upon as they came back to reunite with their families and resettle into their communities.
To many this is surreal, but the question remains as to why such a shift in public sentiment occurred. Even after the Korean War, Americans felt high regard towards the returning vets. What was the difference between the men and women returning from Korea and those returning from Vietnam? Was Korea such a different country than Vietnam? Were there different reasons for the U.S. military being involved in Vietnam as opposed to the nation’s involvement in Korea? Was the U.S. military effort that much more brutal and destructive in Vietnam as opposed to the fighting that took place in Korea?
In many respects, Americans became confused and seriously divided over what happened with U.S. servicemen going to fight in Vietnam. It is possible that as a nation, the country has not recovered from such a divisive time.
In fact, there are a number of differences with regard to the military in going to Korea and in going to Vietnam and it is a bit complicated. However, there are similarities and they are important in making sense of the realities.
Harry Truman was president when the North Koreans invaded South Korea in June of 1950. He responded favorably to a U.N. Security Council vote to support the South Korean people. He sent U.S. troops. The world has since found out, after the fall of the communist Union of Soviet Socialists Republic, that Moscow gave the directive to attack the south. The North Korean dictator, Kim Il Sung, had been trained in Moscow and the economic and military capability to invade was backed by the U.S.S.R. Ironically, the Soviet representative on the Security Council could not veto the vote to help South Korea, since he was absent in protest over the U.N. refusal to admit the People’s Republic of China.
President John F. Kennedy committed to follow President Eisenhower’s policies in support of the South Vietnamese government and sent thousands more U.S. troops as advisors to help the South Vietnamese government fight against the North Vietnamese who were under the guidance of the avowed communist, Ho Chi Minh. Kennedy responded to the communist threat of the takeover of South Vietnam by sending the U.S. troops but it was not prompted as a response to a request from the UN. It originated with Kennedy’s stance against communist expansion. He expressed it clearly in his inaugural address: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Essentially, the United States stood alone in helping South Vietnam. The Soviets made sure that they would not repeat their mistake with Korea by ever letting the Security Council fulfill its essential purpose. But even worse, President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. He had been struck down in his prime, and he would no longer be able to speak on behalf of his policies. The war escalated under President Lyndon Johnson, yet he was not John Kennedy. Johnson had trouble articulating his predecessor’s grasp of why our military was in Vietnam. The war became messy and ugly. Moreover, it got messy and ugly in American living rooms as the American media fed the people a constant diet of war, as much as people could take.
From this divisive time, Americans became confused and unclear about what our nation was doing. Eventually, the college campuses became battlegrounds themselves as Marxist and Left-leaning professors and Socialist youth groups organized and spoke strongly against government policies. Controversy and violence on American soil divided the people. Citizens questioned our government’s motives, second-guessed our military’s motives in many instances from the days of the Vietnam War, despite efforts aimed at assisting friends in their fight for freedom. Consider this: Who stands for genuine freedom by sacrificing more than the United States of America?
After so much self-analysis and self-doubt, soldiers in uniform were seen as suspect, and even viewed with disdain and contempt. This internal attitude persists within some segments of the population today. People paying attention can think back to the comments made by Democrat Party politicians even when President George W. Bush was trying to execute the War on Terror. In 2004, Democrat presidential candidate, John Kerry, who had been a major opponent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, was quite critical of the military activity in Iraq.
For people paying attention, there is a similar effort by the media to promote self-analysis and self-doubt towards the men and women law enforcement officers, and to portray them as suspect, and to even view them with disdain and contempt. Sadly, those same people who disrespected our veterans, are the same ones in positions of power within the corporations of the mainstream media, as well as the halls of Big Government. Today, citizens need to remember that Blue lives matter too.
Such dissenting attitudes are easily tolerated in this country because of the freedom of speech. But, such openly adverse opinions expressed by supposed leaders, does a great deal to diminish the value of the brave men and women in uniform who are serving the country. It poisons the concept of self-worth for any of those men and women in public service.
Much of this disrespect has recently originated from Democrats who have exercised control of public perception from the bully pulpit in the White House all the way down through various MSM news outlets. It is likely that if John Kennedy were alive today, he would not recognize his old political party. From the days of his decision to send troops to Vietnam, we can understand that he was just doing what Truman had done in Korea. And, Truman had done what F.D.R. had done before him; and F.D.R. had done what Wilson had done before him when he sent U.S. troops to “make the world safe for Democracy.” Actually, if any of these Democrat leaders were alive today, it is likely none of them would recognize the contemporary Democrats.
Americans may have temporarily dodged the serious undermining of our foundation of law and order by the election of Donald Trump, the law and order candidate. And from the man who claims to believe in the rule of law, there may be a new day of pro-active respect for those good folks in law enforcement. Also, perhaps respect and honor of our veterans may return, and it is about time. To be honest, it is not just on Veteran’s Day that citizens should offer their gratitude and respect for those who have served – because service itself can be a sacrifice, even without the horrors of war.
Many American men and women have been called to action again and again to help the nations in the democratic world fight against the efforts of despots and tyrants. When American leaders or presidents commit our troops to such a cause, such American youth should not be treated as pawns in political power plays. When men and women in uniform risk their lives for the sake of the citizens on our nation’s soil, they should not be treated as thugs and falsely accused for crimes as they perform their duties of service to their communities to maintain a civil society.
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