An opinion piece

Welcome Home – Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29, 2017


Just in case you’ve run out of befitting causes to embrace (now that Arbor Day has passed) the fifth annual observance of Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day is March 29. This grew out of the Thank You For Your Service (TYFYS) movement, I thought. Not true, it was: The 50th anniversary of the commencement of the Vietnam War that was proclaimed — including a 13-year program (of annual celebrations) for Vietnam Veterans — by none other than President Obama on March 29, 2012. I suppose a lot of us (Vietnam Vets) will be dead by 2025.

I’m still stuck on this TYFYS thing. I believe it all started with the U.S. entering Afghanistan in 2001 to hunt down the Taliban and got traction with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Certainly, it was full blown as GIs began serving multiple tours there.

We had to start two more wars for Vietnam Vets to get welcomed home? Now it’s pervasive. “Thank You For Your Service,” is uttered almost as casually as the trite “Have A Nice Day,” I find each of them meaningless and unnecessary. My bumper sticker reads: “I was a Vietnam Vet before it was popular.”

Most in the community know that John Haynes Memorial Hall (commonly known as Vets Hall) was closed last year leaving many in the community with no affordable meeting place. Of course, we Veterans lost our building (of more than three decades) and a meeting place. Finally Humboldt County found us a semi-permanent meeting place at the College of the Redwoods (CR) building in Garberville.

In December of last year, two fellow Veterans and I arrived early for our first meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in the CR building in Garberville. There we encountered an exercise class as we entered the facility through the only unlocked door. We were not greeted with TYFYS. Instead, a member of the group wrote to CR complaining about our presence and questioning our use of the facility and spewing other unkind words.

Conversely, I’ve been involved in several VFW Buddy Poppy drives in our community, and 97 percent of the people I encountered were very supportive of Vietnam Veterans.

But I digress. If you get a chance, greet a Vietnam Veteran on March 29  (I take my Grande Americana black) with a kind word. However, I would trade all the many greetings like Welcome Home and TYFYS I’ve received over the past decade for just one from 1968.

I’ll spare you my personal experience upon returning from Vietnam in San Francisco. I can assure you, however, it wasn’t Welcome Home or TYFYS.

Now that I’ve had some time to think it through, TYFYS isn’t so bad. It’s preferable to San Francisco in 1968 or the woman who complained of our presence just a few months ago.

Have a nice day.