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Remember Vietnam vets

On Jan. 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed. The signing started the process of ending the Vietnam War. On March 27, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, yet 8,500 "civilian technicians" remained behind. Cease fire violations and fighting continued until April 29/30, 1975, when Saigon fell and the U.S. Navy evacuated U.S. personnel and South Vietnamese refugees. This scene was vividly captured on TV when helicopters were pushed over the side of warships to make room for evacuees.

The Vietnam War was an unpopular and controversial war that divided the nation and ripped her guts out. L.B.J. did not seek re-election because of Vietnam and presidents Ford and Carter were not re-elected possibly because they gave clemency and pardons to draft evaders and deserters. Four students were killed and nine wounded in anti-war demonstrations at Kent State. At the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, "The Whole World was Watching."

The U.S. first became involved in Vietnam in 1945 when it gave military aid and supplies to Ho Chi Minh to fight the Japanese. Thirty years later, Brother Ho and the Viet Minh would be responsible for over 58,000 American deaths and hundreds of thousands wounded.

Today's returning soldiers, thank God, are warmly welcomed back, thanked for their service and parades are held for them. Shamefully that was not the case for vets returning from Vietnam. Returning soldiers were insulted, spat upon and, in some cases, physically assaulted.

The V.A. Hospital system of that era, overloaded with casualties, was a farce that was not equipped to handle the physical wounds, let alone the mental wounds, that returning vets had.

This is the 40-year anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. As parades and celebrations honoring vets are held this year, it would be nice if special emphasis could be to the vets of the Vietnam and Korean wars. The Korean War was another controversial war that ended 60 years ago on July 27, 1953.

I would like to thank all vets who have served their country so that all of us can enjoy the American way of life.

A special remembrance goes to Dennis Roberts. An "absent friend" who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country in Vietnam.

Gary Robinson
Marengo, Ind.
January 23, 2013

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