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Archive for April, 2015

One of the reasons I joined the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) was to be of service to my community. How I could do that was not defined. When the opportunity arose to salute veterans of the war in Vietnam it pulled at my heart.

The Vietnam War changed my life. Within a year I was no longer the young teenage girl only interested in fashion, dating and having fun. Young men my age were being drafted and sent to war in a nation most of us weren’t aware existed. Our generation never asked why. The government made that decision and you served. It wasn’t until later that the anti-war movement organized and men went to Canada rather than serve.

The face of war became that of Lt Cdr. Richard A. Stratton, an A4E pilot and the maintenance officer of Attack Squadron 192 onboard the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA. On January 4, 1967, he launched in his A4E “Skyhawk” attack Aircraft for his 27th mission over North Vietnam. He remained a POW at the Hanoi Hilton until 1973.

It was his likeness that was on the bumper stickers and pamphlets that I distributed as a volunteer for the National League of Families. The sale of the POW-MIA bracelets paid for the League to keep their stories alive in the press and to be able to lobby North Vietnam officials in France.

Every night with our evening meal the national networks fed us films of helicopters unloading body bags of our young men. Body counts of the enemy dead became important news to offset our losses. How could it be that so many young warriors were dead and yet we weren’t gaining any ground? The army that beat the French was about to send us home defeated in mind and spirit.

There were no parades. No one cared if a soldier had developed a drug problem to ease the pain he carried inside. Take off that uniform and blend in. Don’t talk about the war. Move on.

The U. S. Department of Defense has declared 2015 as the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. After 50 years the grateful hand is being extended.
The DAR is honored to salute our veterans. Thanks for your service. Welcome home.

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