the year of LIVING UNOFFICIALLY

365 days of celebration

29
March

Vietnam Veterans Day

Posted by Brittany

Vietnam Veterans DayOn March 29, 1973 the last U.S. troops left Vietnam. The conflict between North and South Vietnam lasted almost twenty years, with international involvement from Communist forces (Viet Cong, Khmer Rouge, Pathet Lao, People’s Republic of Chia, Soviet Union, and North Korea) and Anti-Communist forces (The United States, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Khmer Republic, Kingdom of Laos, and the Republic of China). The war resulted in a total loss of life estimated at close to 1.5 million civilians and soldiers. By the end of the controversial conflict the United States had lost over 58,220 troops. Approximately sixty one per cent of American soldiers killed were twenty-one years old or younger.

The Vietnam War was the longest military conflict in our history and for those soldiers who did return home approximately 21,000 were permanently disabled, and another 830,000 suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. And yet, there is no national day (as of now) set aside to honor the men and women who served during the conflict. Fortunately, many states have designated March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day to honor and recognize the three million plus members of the U.S. military who served during the Vietnam War era for their bravery and sacrifice.

By 1965 about 35,000 young men were being drafted each month. My parents were still teenagers then, but just a few years later my dad was drafted. He ended up serving at the Pentagon and never saw any combat. But still, it’s hard to imagine that he could have been sent overseas to fight in a strange land, or that his young wife could have been widowed or that my brother and I might never have been born. But many men and women did make those sacrifices — wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers — the list goes on and on, and that is precisely why it is so important to honor our veterans for their service.

To observe Vietnam Veterans Day Chris and I hopped on the metro rail and rode into Washington DC to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We walked the length of the 246 foot wall, stopping briefly to listen to a Park Ranger discuss the Vietnam War, the memorial wall, and his own personal experiences during the war. The wall was constructed in 1982 and displays the names of the service men and women who are listed as killed in action or missing in action.

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