Dear Vietnam Veteran,
I know that I should have written much sooner. I cannot say why I did not. Possibly out of fear of admitting to myself that you were there fighting a war and I was not. Or maybe out of shame because I never accepted the things that you felt you had to do. Whatever it is, I know that it must hurt.
Believe me when I say that it hurts me more. I have the burden of your hurts plus that of my own…the pain of not being able to show my true feelings towards you.
I am not writing this for the many months that you served in Vietnam, but more for the years that you were left alone with only your brother veterans for understanding and company. You served proudly and it went unmentioned.
For a long time, I wanted to express these words, the words that an honorable veteran needs to hear. For a long time I wanted to hold you during your times of pain. God knows I wanted to. And only He knows why I never found the courage. I do not remember what I tried to say, or perhaps I do not want to remember. All I know is that I hope that it is not too late to give you those things now.
For years you tried to be a part of my world. Doing everything to please me, just to be noticed and given a little time and understanding. I look back and see the demands that I placed on your shoulders when you were young. ‘Fight your weakness and always show courage to those around you’ was the advice.
But who was I to make such a demand? I sit here with tears in my heart, finally admitting to myself the one weakness you must have seen in me and never questioned it. My inability to say the words that I know would have meant so much to you. “Welcome Home!”
You have served your country honorably so please hear these words now, from my heart. Please give me a chance to be part of your world now…the world that I should have been part of years ago.
The United States of America
March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, which officially designates March 29 each year into perpetuity, as National Vietnam War Veterans Day (the date in 1973 that combat and combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam.
Secretary – Williston Unit 144
American Legion Auxiliary
Williston Park, NY