by Dan Doyle
Back in the early part of the Afghan War, along with the Iraq War, the veterans coming home were welcomed by the people of the United States with enthusiasm and with much honor and respect. It was the kind of welcome that we Vietnam veterans never received. Those Afghan and Iraq veterans understood that and, in many cases, reached out to we Vietnam Veterans to express their respect and honor for us, now knowing themselves the realities of war and the sacrifices that are made on the battlefield for one another. For Vietnam veterans, the generosity and respect those younger veterans offered to us, gave us for the first time, real feelings of acceptance, of recognition, of having done something noble in our own war. After almost 50 years, we started openly wearing our baseball caps emblazoned with our units or with the words “Vietnam Veteran” on them. For the first time, we started having people come up to us to actually thank us for our service. It is time for us Vietnam veterans to return the favor and to stand by our Afghan Veterans. We need to tell them with confidence, from experience, that what they did was not only noble, good and effective, but that their sacrifices counted for a great deal of good for the Afghan people. Their service and sacrifice is meaningful, it was noble in purpose. They stood up for one another, they cared for and defended the Afghans, they honored their duties to the nation, their services and to their fellow warriors to the left and to the right of them in the field of battle. They upheld the dignity, the esprit de corps and the honor of American military history. They can hold their heads up high knowing that their service was not in vain. They did not lose the war, just as we Vietnam veterans did not lose our war. Those who fought in the field, those who supported the troops on the ground from the rear, all of those who served in Afghanistan answered the call and took the risks and made the sacrifices that military service to the nation requires of those who have the courage and the commitment to give of themselves for causes greater than themselves. You are to be honored, each and every one of you.
(Ed. Note: The foregoing is an excerpt from an article which Chaplain Doyle published in his blog recently. We felt it to be representative of the feelings of a lot of us, as the country exits Afghanistan.)