During all the years leading up to the fall of Saigon, I returned from my tours in Vietnam with the troops through San Francisco. As soon as we landed, we were met by crowds who yelled “butcher” and “baby killer” at us. They spat on us. I was shamed to the depths of my soul, not for the troops who had fought bravely and followed commands even at the risk of theirs lives, but for America. Our people, the people we fought for, were blaming us for what they saw as an unjust war. I was sickened. For decades, I never mentioned my time in Vietnam.
Then, less than ten years ago, I got an invitation to attend something I’d never heard of, a welcome home party for Vietnam vets. After considerable hesitation, I decided to attend. Young people, who hadn’t even been born when Saigon fell in 1975, shook my hand, welcomed me home, and thanked me for my service. I was so moved, I cried.
My time in the Gilchrist celebration brought all that back to me. Speaker after speaker brought me to tears. I remembered the soldiers and Marines I’d known who had died. I thought of all the South Vietnamese I knew who were left behind at the end and were killed by the North Vietnamese. I recalled the Amerasian children, fathered by American GIs with Vietnamese women, abandoned to the gentle mercies of the North Vietnamese conquerors.
It was a day of remembrances. And heartbreak.
2 thoughts on “Gilchrist Vietnam Veterans (2)”
We attended one at the High Ground in central Wisc a few years ago. The local town residence were all out to greet, flags and banners etc. a fabulous experience.
Yeah, Dallas, there’s a whole new generation of Americans curious about what happened in Vietnam. People like you and me are now resurrected.