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Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War.
Whenever I’m in Washington, D.C., I make it a point to visit the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial which is perhaps better known as “The Wall.” To me the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial will always be the perfect way to remember that war. It conveys the awesome scale, terribly high number of troops lost (more than 58,000 — most 18 or 19 years old) and dark emotions associated with that war. From a distance it looks like a scar in the earth, which I think – given the way it wounded and divided our country – is the way that war should be remembered.
But some good did come out of that war.
There was some good that came out of the Vietnam conflict. Perhaps the best thing was that it established the importance of the Freedom of the Press and solidified our First Amendment rights. The war also occupied the communist tide and quite arguably stopped it from overcoming Thailand, Indonesian, Australia and other non-communist countries.
Never welcomed home.
Finally, our troops who returned from Vietnam were the only returning troops from any war who were never welcomed home. Some were even met by protesters. We treat our returning troops — as we should — quite differently now.
A Viet Vet at the motorcycle rally.
This past weekend, a few friends and I rode our Harley Davidson motorcycles from Phoenix to Laughlin, Nevada for the annual River Run motorcycle rally. Of the more than 70,000 bikers who showed up for the event there were quite a few brothers who served in Vietnam (although many females — sisters — served in Vietnam, I've yet to be fortunate enough to meet one). I was approached by one such brother at a little roadside general store, during a short break from a day ride on Route 66. As is often the case — when two brothers meet — he greeted me with those words that mean so much to every Vietnam Vet: "Welcome Home."
What should have been said.
On this 32nd anniversary of the end of the War, I can think of nothing more appropriate than to simply say to each and every brother and sister who served in Vietnam what our government and the American People should have said so long ago:
"Thank you." And most of all ... "Welcome home."
Noodlanding Vietnam Airlines
Bolletjesslikker noopt vliegtuig tot noodlanding Een vliegtuig van Vietnam Airlines heeft een noodlanding moeten maken omdat een bolletjesslikker aan boord zo ziek werd dat hij urgente medische zorg nodig had. De bolletjesslikker, een 36-jarige Australiër van Vietnamese origine, is in zorgwekkende toestand in het ziekenhuis opgenomen. Hoeveel heroïne hij heeft geslikt is niet bekend. Het toestel was zaterdag van Ho Chi Minh Stad vertrokken met bestemming Sydney, maar moest vanwege de bolletjesslikker na twee uur rechtsomkeert maken, zei een woordvoerder van de luchthaven maandag. Vietnam kent zeer stenge straffen voor drugssmokkel. Op het bezit van, de smokkel van of de handel in meer dan zeshonderd gram heroïne of twintig kilo opium staat levenslang of de doodstraf.
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