I read in the newspaper that March 30 was "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day." Hasn't that cow been milked enough? I was at the dedication of the National Vietnam Memorial in 1982, and the theme even then was "Welcome Home." By that time, most of us had been back stateside from the war a decade or more.
I don't know why March 30 was selected - the end of the Vietnam War was a month later, 35 years ago, on April 30, 1975. And we lost. A few years after the war, a friend who was also in-country gave me a belt buckle engraved with a map of Vietnam and a ribbon that said, "Second Place, Southeast Asian War Games 1962-1975."
Ironically, March 16, half a month earlier than "Welcome Home Day," is usually remembered as "My Lai Day," which might be a more pertinent observance of the war.
It is commonplace these days for people to say to war veterans, "Thanks for your service." I usually reply that gratitude for attempted genocide against the Vietnamese is misplaced. The acronym for "winning hearts and minds" is WHAM, like the bursting of a bomb or shell.
I know many Vietnam veterans won't agree that the war was a pointless and egregious waste of life. But a significant number of others do. It is a debate that involves our entire generation, and won't end, at least among us, until we are all dead. Then the mythmakers will have a clear field in which to weave their fables to entice future generations into calamitous wars.
We should pay attention to what veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are trying to tell us - not the authorized voices, but the soul-stricken soldiers and Marines who want the unpleasant truths of their wars known.