an experience more horrible than being a participant in a war – any war. The smell
of death and the sight of people being blown to pieces is something that only
those who have been there can relate to.
And who is to say that one war
was more horrendous than another or that one battle exceeds another in brutality?
War is hell on earth and those of us who are fortunate enough not to have those
dreadful memories of death and destruction entrenched in our minds should honor
every single one of those brave souls who have endured the terrible cruelty of
The veterans of World
War II were instrumental is saving this country, and the entire
world, from domination by Germany and Japan. They have been labeled, “The Greatest
Generation,” and they certainly merit that title.
But since that time,
including the present, this country has been involved in other wars and in these
wars; the participants have also fought in bloody battles, not unlike what the
veterans of World
War II experienced, and their sacrifice was just as enormous.
The problem is, however, that the veterans of these later wars have not
received the tribute that is due them for serving their country. They did not
come home to brass bands and ticker-tape parades, courtesy of a grateful nation.
Instead, they have been virtually ignored by many of the people they so honorably
Korean War has been called a “police action,” but I seriously doubt that the veterans
of the Battle at Chosin Reservoir, Pusan, and the Battle for Seoul, thought they
were involved in a mere police action. Not when nearly 40,000 of their fellow
soldiers died in the frozen landscape of Korea.
Some call Korea the “forgotten
war,” and although it has been forgotten by many, you can bet those who served
there will never forget.
And in my opinion, the veterans of Vietnam have
really received a raw deal. They served during a time when many Americans opposed
the war. People took to the streets and demonstrated; returning soldiers were
spit upon, called baby killers, and were not honored for serving their country.
Some soldiers would actually change out of their uniforms to avoid these confrontations.
But just like veterans of other wars, those who participated in the Vietnam War
still carry those same awful memories of the bloody scenes they witnessed at places
called Loc Ninh, An Loc, Quang Tri, and many others. These veterans returned home
with indelible images still in their minds of dead comrades being placed in body
bags and pulled from the steamy jungles of Vietnam. Over 58,000 brave soldiers
died in this so-called “unpopular war.” As if any war could be popular.
People seem to forget that the soldiers who fought in Vietnam won nearly every
battle they were engaged in. It has long been my opinion that they were not allowed
to do the things that could have won the war, mainly because of political pressure
to end it. But veterans of Vietnam can hold their heads high; they performed admirably
and their sacrifice was just as great as those experienced by soldiers of any
At the present time, there are young Americans risking their lives
in the Middle East. They are experiencing the same atrocious things that soldiers
in all wars have had to endure. Those who are serving in our armed forces today
are doing an exceptional job and we should let them know we appreciate it, at
We should spare no expense in seeing that veterans are
aptly compensated for serving this country. Be it medical care, rehabilitation
programs, or anything else for that matter. They earned it, and they are entitled
to it. Those who complain about veterans receiving benefits more than likely never
served in the military.
I believe that those individuals who have taken
time out of their lives to defend this nation should be appropriately honored.
If they wore the uniform and did their duty, that is all that matters. And it
should make absolutely no difference when, where, or how they served.
© Murray Montgomery
Star Diary August
8 , 2008 Column
| World War II | World
War I |