Remembering those we lost
By Elaine Owen, Editor
Friday March 29 was National Vietnam War Veterans Day. I apologize for this belated but very sincere THANK YOU to our Vietnam War veterans.
In Fannin County, there are more than 2,500 veterans—the majority are Vietnam veterans. For many of those, memories are still fresh and each one is different. I couldn’t begin to tell you the memories shared with me. But I can tell you FACTS and what National Vietnam War Veterans Day means.
On that day, more than 43 years ago, the last US combat troops left Vietnam and the prisoners of war (POWs) held in North Vietnam came home. (There is a question if this statement is accurate.)
It is a recognition extended to men and women who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, whether in peacetime or war. Nine million Americans — about 6.4 million of them living today — served during that period, 2.7 million of them served “in-country,” in Vietnam. Approximately 3.4 million served in the Southeast Asia theater.
The 58,320 names of U.S. service members inscribed on The Vietnam Wall at the National Mall in Washington D.C. is just one measure – a horrific one — of the sacrifices made by those who served in that War.
• 304,000 were wounded.
• 1,253 are Missing in Action (MIA) and have not yet returned
to American soil.
• 2,500 were Prisoners of War.
• Thousands still suffer the deep and lasting physical and
psychological scars of war.
• There were five American presidents during the War:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, J.F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson,
Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Major Battles & Operations
Gulf of Tonkin Incident and its resolution marked the start of direct American involvement in Vietnam.
Tet Offensive was a major turning point in the Vietnam War.
The 1972 Easter Offensive was the largest conventional invasion since 300,000 Chinese forces crossed over the Yalu River to support North Korea during the Korean War.
The U.S. won almost all major battles of the Vietnam War although they did lose many other battles.
North Vietnam won the Vietnam war.
The Fall of Saigon – April 30 is now celebrated as Reunification Day or Liberation Day in Vietnam while overseas Vietnamese people consider it as Black April, National Hatred Day or National Day of Shame. In the United States, March 29 is recognized as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The Vietnam War cost the U.S. more than 58,000 lives, roughly $950 billion (today’s standard) and sharply divided American society.
Roughly 2.4 million U.S. veterans were reported as exposed to Agent Orange, which left a long-lasting and adverse impact on Vietnamese environment and health.
To date, Vietnam is technically still a communist country although it has shifted to an open market economy.
Vietnam was one of three countries, along with Germany and Korea, that became divided due to the Cold War. Among these three countries, only Korea remains divided to date.
Vietnam, together with Greek, Afghanistan and Korea, is a typical proxy war happening during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
Vietnam was a conflict not a war and should be called Vietnam conflict (though few use the term “conflict.”)
Vietnam War took place mainly in South Vietnam but escalated to North Vietnam in the mid-1960s and later Laos and Cambodia in early 1970s.
Vietnam War is widely considered to have lasted 19 years, 6 months. (The war in Afghanistan is now in its 18th year.)
A scar that has been left on all of us is how Vietnam War veterans did not always receive the respect and gratitude they deserved upon their return home.
The National Vietnam War Veterans Day is part of a national effort to recognize those men and women who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home 43 years ago and begins to reflect “our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.”