Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 23, 2013

It's about time Vietnam vets are recognized

— Some confusion is forgivable.

For one thing, the calendar informs us that spring has arrived. Cold temperatures and persistent snowfall lead us to believe otherwise.

Also, an article on Page A3 of Wednesday’s Goshen News publicized that veterans will be honored today during a local ceremony. Last time we checked, Veterans Day isn’t due to arrive until November.

A close reading of the article indicates the event is a homecoming for Vietnam War vets. By our reckoning, troops came home in the early to mid-1970s.

Our official position is that it’s time for spring to really make its presence felt. Giving Vietnam veterans the recognition they deserve?

It’s about time.

Today, the folks at Syracuse Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1342 are hosting a “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” event. Festivities start at 5 p.m. Admission is free, and everyone is invited to attend.

VFW gala aside, honoring veterans isn’t foreign to The News’ readership area. Recall that only last month, Marines returning from Afghanistan were met warmly by people lining a parade route through Goshen. Flags were waved and “Welcome Home” signs displayed.

Have homeward-bound veterans always enjoyed such a tribute? No, according to Vietnam veteran and Syracuse VFW post member Butch Ritter. The Vietnam conflict carved a deep and wide cultural divide. Ritter was succinct in describing the homecoming for him and his fellow troops: “We didn’t get one.”

Years later, there’s a push to make amends.

In 2007, U.S. lawmakers approved designating March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Indiana lawmakers have yet to recognize the holiday.

On balance, The Goshen News is fine with elected state legislators charting the course of our official destiny. In this case, we think they should get on board with the feds.

Credit Syracuse VFW Post members for not waiting around for that to happen, and for paying tribute that is both due and overdue.

Also worthy of note is that in addition to the general public, all veterans are invited to the Syracuse gala. That’s significant.

U.S. military deployments are unique in terms of adversaries, goals, locales and timeframes. Warring parties change. Fields of conflict change. Public opinion on right or wrong tilts pro and con, left and right; sometimes, apathy is the prevailing sentiment.

One aspect, though, remains constant: sacrifice by the combatants.

We appreciate the people who take stock of the members of our armed forces. We herald those for whom Veterans Day and Memorial Day are more than dates marked in small type on calendars — and who pay heed to service regardless of what day it is.

More importantly, though, we all must thank the past and present armed forces members who are or were in harm’s way in service to their country. Praise is due to those among us today. Honor and remembrance are due to those who never got to come back.

An important message is being sent today in Syracuse. It’s brevity does no injustice to eloquence.

Welcome home.