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Veterans, soldiers deserve thanksPosted Friday, October 12, 2007, at 9:19 AM
Three Vietnam veterans from Shelbyville visited the T-G office Thursday to have their photo taken after the latest of reunions they have every few years.
Their pride in serving their country was still evident 40 years later. You'll read about them in a future print edition of the T-G and maybe on the web site.
I found myself contrasting their dedication and good humor, and the great impressions Iraq veterans and active-duty soldiers who've visited the T-G newsroom have made, with comments within a San Francisco radio newscast from the summer of 1971 I heard recently.
The governor of California is heard decrying poor treatment of soldiers returning from Vietnam, including being cursed and spat on. I'd assume the location -- San Francisco -- had something to do with it.
From my perspective -- coming of age a few years after Vietnam -- I can't imagine soldiers being mistreated by their own fellow citizens for simply following assignments. I realize it happened, and I realize there were a lot of Americans who had good reasons to be dissatisfied with their government, but burning flags and spitting on soldiers isn't the way to attract support.
Protesters' attacks on American soldiers for marching in combat instead of marching in protest showed only immaturity and self-centeredness.
Those who seriously love their country and have strongly-reasoned anti-war feelings have the right, maybe even the duty, to protest the right way. And there is a right way: Aim protests toward the politicians who send the soldiers, not the troops themselves.
Disagree with war? Fine. But our veterans and active military from all eras deserve only thanks, not personal attacks.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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