Happy Vietnam Veteran’s Day
By Major General Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin National Guard.
Forty years ago in 1973, the last American combat soldier departed Saigon and ended America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Today, we honor our Vietnam veterans — soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen who served our nation with honor and distinction at a very difficult time in our nation’s history, a time of war and a time of social unrest at home, a time when our society failed to distinguish between our nation’s policy and the faithful service of our military. Time has brought perspective, and today our country knows that our Vietnam veterans’ service was extraordinary and that honor was and is due. America has a proud tradition of military service, and the Vietnam chapter in America’s history is just as important to this nation and just as valued as any generation prior or since.
Our Vietnam veterans, like previous generations of veterans who served in time of war, served with valor on the field of battle and came home to make America better. We remember the difficult time during this conflict, but often miss the extraordinary contribution of so many of our Vietnam veterans. They have made America better and stronger, by building our institutions, starting and succeeding in business, serving in office and in our communities, and raising families. And they continue their commitment to the men and women who wear the uniform. They have been at the foundation of America’s commitment today honoring those who have served in our most recent conflict.
How do I know? I see them every time we deploy a unit of the Wisconsin National Guard — a tear in their eye, pride in their gaze, a flag in their hand or on their shirt, and a staunch commitment to supporting this current generation of warriors. America is better not in spite of our Vietnam generation, but because of it. So on behalf of the 10,000 soldiers and airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard, I say to all Vietnam veterans — thank you for your service and commitment to America. You have our respect, our appreciation and our admiration. Our history is freedom’s history and it must be preserved. Each generation must keep the torch of freedom lit and pass it on to the next generation.
You, the Vietnam generation, faced significant challenges as you carried that torch, but you kept it burning and burning brightly. Thank you. — Major General Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin National Guard.