I interrupt my post on the USPS to draw attention to March 29 and 30, two days of unusual importance to me.
March 29th is Vietnam War Veterans Day, the anniversary of the day in 1973 when the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. And March 30 is the state of Maryland’s annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans celebration. Given my many years of serving in Vietnam, both days are sacred to me.
During the war, too often when I came home with the troops, we’d be met at the San Francisco airport by mobs who spat on us and called us “butchers” and “baby killers.” For decades after the war ended, I never spoke of my time in Vietnam. It was considered a shameful war.
Then, a half dozen years ago, all that began to change. I remember when I was invited for the first time to a welcome-home event for Vietnam veterans. When I got there, young folks hugged me and said, “Thank you for your service. And welcome home.” I wept.
Americans have indeed changed their judgment of Vietnam. On March 29 and 30, they celebrate the sacrifice and contribution of men and women who fought in Vietnam. Our service is no longer a matter of shame. It’s now a matter of honor.
But March 30 is sacred to me for another reason. It was on that day in 2020 that my partner for over twenty years, Su, died. Even after a year, I’m still grieving.
March 30 will always be for me a somber day of memories. Over time, the sadness will lessen as I remember the happy times that Su and I shared. My shame over Vietnam will continue to fade, and my pride in my service will grow.
Then comes the sad month of April. The 29th is the 46th anniversary of the fall of Saigon from which I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. I left behind many who died. I will always mourn them.
So for the foreseeable future, Spring will be my time of remembering. And grieving.