My dad was a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force from 1952-54 and served in Japan. None of his children or grandchildren followed his path of military service as we came of age during the Vietnam War. My brothers received draft cards but opted to stay in college to delay a call to active duty much to my mother’s delight.
My dad helped run a commissary and he shared stories of the rebuilding years in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He and my mother employed a young Japanese woman to help with my older two brothers, a toddler and an infant, she then traveled home into the country on week-ends but she lived with my parents during the week. My father talked of the hunger of the Japanese people, especially the children, at that time due to food shortages and a poor economy after the lengthy and brutal war.
Recently, RM and I watched the series The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novak on PBS. If you have a loved one who has a story to share about their experience during the Vietnam War, click the link above where they can upload their personal story or read others. Remembering and sharing stories are important of this war or of other more current conflicts.
How did you experience the Vietnam era? While this period in our history is often controversial and sometimes divisive, what struck me, while watching the documentary, was how much I had forgotten about the sequence of events, the dimensions of the war, but not the sacrifices on both sides. During WWII, estimates are 60 million people died in all. During Vietnam the casualty counts vary from 1.3 million to 3.9 million.
This Veteran’s Day, I mourn the lives lost and for those struggling for normalcy after their tours of service. This Veteran’s Day do something meaningful for a veteran in your life. Ask them about their service. Encourage them to tell their story. Help them mow their lawn or babysit their kids for the night.
Watch the documentary and remember their sacrifice and the many sacrifices of young men and women in other wars. And pray for peace and for the keepers of peace and for no more war.