- Thomas Baker
National Vietnam War Veterans Day 2022
Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, honoring the lives and memories of those who served in one of our nation’s bloodiest conflicts. Roughly 2.7 million Americans fought in Vietnam. 58,318 of them are memorialized on the wall behind me. Hundreds of thousands more were wounded in action. Those who did return were largely subjected to scorn and derision by a civilian population that unfairly judged them for decisions made by policymakers in Washington. Some of these veterans struggled to reintegrate to civilian life, and too many survived the horrors of warfare, but have succumbed to their personal war within.
Despite all of this, the Vietnam generation is marked by hope. The vast majority of them have overcome their physical or mental struggles they took from Vietnam, continued their service here at home. Many have become leaders in business, education, healthcare, politics, and philanthropy. They reinvigorated veteran service organizations and continued serving each other and veterans who came after them. Their advocacy on behalf of veterans deployed in the Global War on Terror will have played a significant role preventing another “Agent Orange” mistake regarding toxic exposures, including burn pits. But arguably most important, Vietnam veterans have worked tirelessly to ensure that future generations of service members receive a much different welcome when they come home.
So today, take a few minutes to reflect on the service and contributions of our Vietnam veterans. Reach out to one you know and learn more about their experiences. Because the only way to honor their service is to make sure we never forget.