New Hampshire Welcomes Home Vietnam Vets

For the first time in the United States, veterans who served in the Vietnam War were officially welcomed home on March 30. More than a thousand people attended the ceremony in Concord, NH where speeches from Vietnam veterans, Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Representative Carol-Shea Porter, and others gave their thoughts about the long-unrecognized veterans and their service to the United States Military.

Retired solders could be heard throughout the event reliving stories with each other, of the battles in Vietnam and of the battles upon returning home. Many discussed the terrors of war, while others shared stories of the horrendous treatment they received from American citizens upon returning.

Veterans’ Thoughts

I asked a vet about his experience. He never gave me his name, but just simply said, “Solders these days are welcomed home with flags, banners, family, friends, and open arms. When I came home, I landed in the airport, walked off the plane in my uniform, and people spit on me. Literally, they spit on me. The politics were so fierce that people forgot we were human beings.”

I asked another soldier what he thought of the event after he walked away from a pile of reporters. His words easily summarized the event for all the veterans in attendance. He said, “Son, you’re way too young to understand the fierce hate people had for us. It was a lose-lose situation. We left Vietnam, where everyone hated us, and tried to kill us. We can home to America, where everyone hated us and wished we were dead. But, at least the Americans weren’t shooting at us. So, what do I think of this event? Apology accepted.”

What it Means for Future Vets

A lot was said of regretting how people treated the veterans who came home at the end of their tours during the Vietnam War. On point, even more was said of how soldiers now, and in the future, will never have to endure the same treatment. Many of the Vietnam veterans were actively involved in programs designed to help current veterans re-acclimate themselves to civilized society, helping soldiers handle from post-traumatic stress disorder, and manage other post-battle obstacles.

This event was one the first of its kind, with a few others having been held in several states on the 30th. Hopefully the event will inspire other states, districts, and individuals to reach out to veterans and welcome them home.


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