This year--with COVID-19 occupying a majority of the news nationally, statewide and locally--we didn't post an article about Vietnam Veterans Day. For anyone who didn't know, it was Sunday.
On March 29, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed Vietnam Veterans Day. The proclamation called "upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Vietnam War."
In 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act which officially recognizes March 29th as Vietnam War Veterans Day.
March 29th was chosen as National Vietnam War Veterans Day because on March 29, 1973, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) was disbanded and the last US combat troops departed the Republic of Vietnam.
The beginning of the war can be traced all the way back to the period of European colonialism. France ruled Vietnam until the Second World War when the country was overtaken by the Japanese. After WWII, the French tried to reassert themselves, but they were defeated in a bloody clash that ended in 1954. Ho Chi Minh declared North Vietnam's independence and modeled a declaration of independence after that of the United States, but President Eisenhower sided with our former French allies from WWII and with anti-Communist fervor going wild in the US, spoke of a 'domino effect,' a phrase often used in fears that the Communists were taking over the world one country at a time.
For the US, the war became significant in 1964 when North Vietnamese torpedo boats were said to attack an American ship (later disputed) and Congress passed a resolution that authorized President Lyndon Johnson to escalate the military involvement which soon meant bombing North Vietnam and sending troops.
Before it was over, more than 58,000 American soldiers were killed in the conflict. America's involvement end with the Paris Peace Accord. The agreement said the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) would remain a separate and free country, but nobody believed it. Nixon was soon to resign and most AMericans (including Congress) were opposed to any further US involvement in Vietnam, so in 1975, the Communists achieved their goal and united the country under their government.
President Trump marked the day with a tweet: “You have earned our gratitude and thanks,” he wrote, “by your actions years ago and what you have done since returning home. The nation thanks you and your families for your service and sacrifice. We love you!”
His message to veterans met with a mixture of thanks and scorn.
Trump instituted the official holiday in 2017. During the war, he was given five deferments from service, four academic and one on medical grounds.
The war divided America as none before it ever had: there were massive protests and political candidates ran on the promise of ending the war. Their distaste for the nation's political leaders spilled over to a less than welcoming homecoming for US soldiers--many of whom had opposed the war but felt it was their duty (and a legal requirement) to serve.
Our apologies at not having posted something about the day on Sunday. Like America, we're a bit late, but let us say what many have said now--a long overdue--"thank you for your service."