Some Gave All

March 29, 2023- The roll of honor featured those killed in action in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, and those who died in the three attacks on September 11, 2001. These extensions of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall, whose traveling exhibit is in Camp Verde, AZ for five days, are part of its mission to bring closure to those left behind by these more recent tragic series of events.

The day was observed, nationwide, with many state governors issuing proclamations honouring Vietnam Veterans on this day. The President apparently did not, but he had honoured an individual soldier with a belated Medal of Honor on March 3. The importance of today, to those of us who served in that conflict, will hopefully not be lost on him, in the future.

“All gave some. Some gave all.” I lost three friends from my home town, and nearly lost a fourth, in the conflict. The death of the first one, in combat, spurred me to go to the war zone and see for myself what was going on. Fortunately, I was assigned to Army Postal Units-first in Long Binh, the largest base in the Vietnam Theater and later to Cholon, a smaller compound in the midst of Saigon. Those of us in the rear echelon “gave some”, but whatever threats there were to our safety, in 1971, came more from fellow Americans. The War Zone was no safe haven from drug and human traffickers, or from the internal divisions of our own society. While I came home with less Post-Traumatic Stress than combat arms veterans, there was some.

I felt the residue of much of that stress today, as speakers in Camp Verde and in Prescott paid homage to us and some spoke of their own experiences. It was surreal, as I have long since put the war behind me, and I didn’t really feel that people showed any particular disrespect towards me, when I came back, in 1972. There were no left-wing radicals trying to spit at me or accusing me of being a baby killer, though I know of a few who had those experiences. What did surface today was my wanting to not draw any attention to myself, or to commiserate much with other Vets. I mainly wanted to observe the day in semi-private, being in the group, but not prominently.

So the day passed, and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited on three occasions. I received a swag bag from the Red Cross, indulged in a donut hole, then exercised on a stationary bike for 20 minutes and got in a 2-mile walk to/from downtown. At day’s end, the residual feelings of unworthiness have passed and I am back to a more even emotional state.

Some, though, gave all-and we are forever in their debt.

2 thoughts on “Some Gave All

  1. Indiana’s own Joe Donnelly (from my district even) was the one who cosponsored the bill to make March 29th a special day to honor those who served in Vietnam. I’m glad that those who served are finally getting the respect they deserve. Though my peers were too young to serve many had older siblings who were drafted and a few didn’t return… Gary, thanks for your service. Perhaps you didn’t have to fight on the front lines but your efforts kept those who were fighting connected to family and loved ones and that was sometimes the difference between hope and despair.

    Liked by 1 person

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