Where has the respect that we, as Americans, used to havefor our flag? I recall growing up, we were taught respect for our elders, ourselves, our military, the national anthem, and our flag. Every morning in school we started out with the Pledge of Allegiance. It was done standing up by our desk, hand over our heart, and recited loud and proud. Anytime there was a sporting event or other activity where The Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem, was played or sung, again we stood up, placed our hand over our heart and sang proudly.
After the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, patriotism and respect seemed to surge and come back to the forefront. Have we forgotten, in the past almost eleven years, how to respect and honor our flag? When I go into my kids’ school in the mornings, the Pledge of Allegiance is still recited, but it seems there isn’t the pride and enthusiasm there once was. People of all ages, students, parents, teachers, staff, can be seen talking to each other, on the phone or busy at their desk. Can we no take a minute out of our busy schedule to respect and honor our flag? Would it really be that much of a bother to stand and place your hand over your heart and recite the Pledge with pride and enthusiasm?
Children learn what they are taught and shown. How can our children be expected to respect the flag and recite the Pledge or sing The Star-Spangled Banner, when we, as adults and role models, don’t do it. I have been at many events in the past few years where the national anthem is performed. Almost everyone will stand and face the flag, few seem to sing; even fewer seem to place their hand over their heart. Many just stand there, hands clasped in front or behind them, looking as though it is a bother to even be there. Let me say, I never saw a gun to anyone’s head telling them the “had” to be there. If you go to an event where the Pledge and/or national anthem are performed or recited, take the initiative to show our kids what it means to respect our flag, a symbol of our country and our freedom.
I think that with the tenth anniversary of 9-11 approaching, there very well could be another surge of patriotism in America. My hope is that not only will the patriotism and respect surge, but it will endure; and our kids will see and learn how to salute our flag, recite the Pledge with pride and enthusiasm, and sing The Star-Spangled Banner loud and proud.
These are my thoughts, observations and opinions. If you share my viewpoint, or have another viewpoint, I would like to hear it.
Manning and his wife, Abby, have helped raise $2.9 million for the outpatient clinic at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital — the only children’s cancer care center in Mississippi.
The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., reports Manning does more than raise money. The 30-year-old athlete visits children in the hospital every summer. However, there are certain strings attached. He insists on no media and no doctors.
“The only thing he asked was that someone go with him to help carry the boxes of gifts he had brought for the children,” James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, tells the newspaper. “He wanted one-on-one time with them all. He said he would sign whatever they wanted. He wanted to play video games with the ones who felt like it … anything to make them smile and feel better for a little while.
“That’s about as classy as it gets. This guy is a superstar in the NFL, a Super Bowl most valuable player. You don’t see many of them wandering the halls of children’s hospitals. I just don’t know how much more fortunate we could be.”
Keeton tells the Clarion-Ledger Manning started with a goal in 2007 of donating $2.5 million in five years. He’s surpassed that goal by $400,000.
“That just doesn’t happen in this day and time, whether you’re trying to raise $50 million or $100,000,” Keeton says. “You always set what you hope to do, but rarely do you get there.”
Manning tells the newspaper it was a point of honor.
“Any time you put your name on something, you should want it to be done right,” he says. “I said we could do this, and I wanted to be a man of my word.”
That included keeping a promise he made when he entered professional sports after five years at the University of Mississippi. He promised to give back to the state.
Manning was 26 when started raising money for the hospital and visiting children. At first, he admits, he was nervous about visiting young cancer patients.
“I didn’t really know what to say or what to do to make them feel better,” he tells the Clarion-Ledger. “It left me feeling sort of helpless, to be honest.”
Now he loves visiting the kids.
“It’s never what I would call easy,” he tells the newspaper. “You walk into a room and a child is sick … he or she may not be feeling too good that day. They may be down. But what I’ve learned is, just do the best you can to get a smile out of them. And even though they may not say anything then — I mean, kids can be shy — afterward you hear from their parents that the visit meant so much and that their child hasn’t stopped talking about it.
“And I try to do the same thing for the parents. It’s a tough time for them. So anything I can do to lift the morale of the whole group is a good thing.”
When you see a veteran walking on the street
Do you ever look into his eyes
You may be very surprised
At what you might see
When you look into the eyes of a veteran
Do you see the anguish that he feels
Do you see the hurt that is deep inside
Do you see the faces of his lost friends
When you look into the eyes of a veteran
Do you see the atrocities he has seen
Do you see the love he has for his country
Do you see the tears that he has shed
When you look into the eyes of a veteran
Do you see the family that suffers with him
Do you see the anger pent up inside
Do you see the soul of a lost man
You may see all of these things
You may see nothing
The eyes may look dead
But a few kind words is all that is needed
Those words can bring those eyes back to life
They can become alive again
They only need to hear you say
Welcome Home Brother
Some have waited forty years
To hear that they are appreciated
And that you love them
For the sacrifices they endured
They are a lonely people
That sometimes stay withdrawn
Because they suffer in silence
For what they think they have done
But this country is starting to realize
That they were just doing their job
They did their best with what they had
To fight for and maintain our freedom
Welcome Home Brother
And thank you for your service
Vietnam veterans are unique as the only group of combat veterans in the history of this great country who returned home to be reviled, vilified and abused rather than honored and appreciated. They are one of the most unjustly-maligned groups in American history.
Numerous myths (that’s a polite word for lies), some caused by inaccurate media reporting, many simply made up by anti-war activists to suit their purposes, have shadowed these vets for 40+ years. Unfortunately, these lies have been repeated often enough that many people now accept them at face value.
Generations of Americans, too young to remember, need to learn the truth about these fine and heroic men and women. So we’re here to dispel some of those myths.
These men and women answered their nation’s call, to protect the world from the spread of communism. Some were drafted, many more volunteered to serve in a cause in which they believed.
Those who came home left their youth and innocence in Southeast Asia. Many are still haunted by the things they experienced there. Many did not return — more than 58,000 names of U.S. service members killed in Vietnam are carved into slabs of black granite that form the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.
Many things are still not understood about our government’s management of the conflict, and many things are misunderstood. The least understood facet is why it seemed as though those in power were making our troops fight basically with one hand tied behind them, restricting targets and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Fighter pilots were not allowed to bomb certain targets, some considered “high-value” targets, and couldn’t understand why.
No one could understand why it seemed our government wanted our troops to lose the war. If that was the case, why send them in the first place? And something many people don’t understand is that there had been a constant U.S. military presence (as advisors) in Vietnam since 1945.
Because the war was politically unpopular, and unfiltered images played out on American television, sometimes incorrectly described, there was a groundswell of opposition to the war and to the American administration’s policies. Protests on college campuses were large and frequent, and frequently became unruly. The first draft card burning took place at a protest on the campus at UC Berkeley. At the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, anti-war protesters marched and demonstrated throughout the city. Tensions between police and protesters quickly escalated, resulting in a “police riot”.
Because of the widespread opposition to the war, and the strong passions ignited by anti-war activists, our veterans were grossly mistreated when they returned home. They could not wear their uniforms off base for their own safety, they were spit upon in public places, and one of the many epithets hurled at them was “baby killer.” Even in the Pentagon, military service members only wore uniforms one day a week.
Those who opposed the war went to great lengths to demonize our Vietnam vets, who weren’t responsible for the government’s policy, but merely carried it out. They didn’t (and still don’t) understand why they were treated like criminals after honorably serving their country.
For four decades these men have been vilifed by some factions of the public. These vets are still treated with contempt in some circles, and the false stereotype continues to be repeated, often innocently. It’s time to educate the American public about our Vietnam vets.
For those too young to remember the truth, the lies have been repeated so often, they’re generally accepted as the truth.
Vietnam vets have vowed, “Never again will U.S. veterans be treated the way we were.” It is largely due to their efforts that today’s Iraq and Afghanistan vets are being treated with more respect and recognized for the sacrifices they make on our behalf.
MYTH: The United States lost the war in Vietnam
Reality: The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance. This included the Tet Offensive in 1968, which was a major military defeat for the VC (Viet Cong) and NVA (North Vietnamese Army).
THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM, THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID — after the U.S. Congress cut off funding. The South Vietnamese ran out of fuel, ammunition and other supplies because of a lack of support from our Congress, while the North Vietnamese were very well supplied by China and the Soviet Union. And those who lived through that experience don’t want to see the same things happen in Iraq if we pull our troops out too soon, before the Iraqi people have created a stable situation in their country and are capable of defending themselves.
MYTH: Most Vietnam veterans were drafted.
Reality: Two-thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. In contrast, two-thirds of the men who served in World War II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed were volunteers. Many men volunteered for the draft, so even some of the draftees were actually volunteers.
MYTH: A disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War.
Reality: 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
Sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, in their book “All That We Can Be,” said they analyzed the claim that blacks were used like cannon fodder during Vietnam “and can report definitely that this charge is untrue. Black fatalities amounted to 12 percent of all Americans killed in Southeast Asia – a figure proportional to the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the time and slightly lower than the proportion of blacks in the Army at the close of the war.”
MYTH: The war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated.
Reality: Servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas had a slightly elevated risk of dying because they were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers. Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better.
MYTH: The average age of an infantryman fighting in Vietnam was 19.
Assuming KIAs accurately represented age groups serving in Vietnam, the average age of an infantryman serving in Vietnam being 19 years old is a myth – it is actually 22. None of the enlisted grades have an average age of less than 20. The average man who fought in World War II was 26 years of age.
MYTH: The fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II.
The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.
One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. 58,169 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.59 million who served. Although the percent who died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II. 75,000 Vietnam veterans are severely disabled.
MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions. Over 900,000 patients were airlifted (nearly half were American). The average time lapse between wounding to hospitalization was less than one hour. As a result, less than one percent of all Americans wounded who survived the first 24 hours died.d
The helicopter provided unprecedented mobility. Without the helicopter it would have taken three times as many troops to secure the 800 mile border with Cambodia and Laos.
MYTH: Kim Phuc, the little nine-year-old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972, was burned by Americans bombing the area.
Show any American over age 50 this photo, and ask what it depicts, and the likely answer will be “Americans bombing innocent women and children in Vietnam.”
In fact, there were no Americans involved in this incident near Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes doing the bombing near the village were VNAF (Vietnam Air Force), flown by Vietnamese pilots, in support of South Vietnamese troops on the ground. The Vietnamese pilot who dropped the napalm in error is currently living in the United States. Even the AP photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture, was Vietnamese.
The incident in the photo took place on the second day of a three-day battle between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), who occupied the village of Trang Bang, and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who were trying to force the NVA out of the village. Reports in the news media that an American commander ordered the air strike that burned Kim Phuc are incorrect.
There were no Americans involved in any capacity. “We (Americans) had nothing to do with controlling VNAF,” according to Lieutenant General (Ret.) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding General of TRAC (Third [Military] Regional Assistance Command) at that time.
Also, it has been incorrectly reported that two of Kim Phuc’s brothers were killed in this incident. They were Kim’s cousins, not her brothers.
MYTH: The American military was running for their lives during the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
The picture of a Huey helicopter evacuating people from the top of what was described as the U.S. Embassy during the fall of Saigon in the last week of April 1975 helped to create this myth.
This famous picture is the property of UPI Corbus-Bettman Photo Agency. It is one of 42 pictures of this helicopter that UPI photographer, Hubert Van Es took on 29 April 1975 from UPI’s offices on the top floor of the Saigon Hotel, which was several blocks from the Pittman Apartments.
Here are some facts to clear up that poor job of reporting by the news media.
It was a “civilian” (Air America) Huey, not Army or Marines.
It was NOT the U.S. Embassy. The building is the Pittman Apartments, a 10-story building where the CIA station chief and many of his officers lived. The U.S. Embassy and its helipad were much larger. The platform is the top of the elevator shaft for the building and was not designed as a helipad.
The evacuees were Vietnamese, not American military. Two high-ranking Vietnamese were among those evacuated that day to Tan Son Nhut airport, General Tran Van Don and the head of the secret police, Tran Kim Tuyen. Both immigrated to Europe and both have since died.
The person who can be seen aiding the refugees was CIA operations officer, Mr. O.B. Harnage, who is now retired in Arizona. The pilots who were flying this helicopter, tail number N4 7004, were Bob Caron, who lives in Florida, and Jack “Pogo” Hunter, who died in 1997.
The fall of Saigon happened on 30 April 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam. The last American troops departed in their entirety 29 March 1973.
How could we lose a war we had already stopped fighting?
We fought to an agreed stalemate. The peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973. It called for release of all U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides’ forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to peaceful reunification.
The 140,000 evacuees in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon consisted almost entirely of civilians and Vietnamese military, NOT American military running for their lives.
There were almost twice as many casualties in Southeast Asia the first two years after the fall of Saigon in 1975, as there were during the ten years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam.
MYTH: The domino theory was proved false.
The domino theory was accurate. The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America’s commitment in Vietnam.
Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits that is south of Singapore and of great strategic importance to the free world. If you ask people who live in these countries who won the war in Vietnam, they have a different opinion from the American news media. The Vietnam War was the turning point for stopping the spread of Communism.