During the Vietnam War, some civilians who opposed the war would approach anyone in an Armed Services uniform and ask how many children that person had killed. Others would just call the person a disparaging name. Then there were people who threw anything they had within reach.
I’m guessing less than one percent of the population engaged in that abuse, although public opinion gradually went against the war. Each incident made some veterans feel as if an entire society opposed them personally, though. One presumptuous individual can make you feel surrounded, especially after you’ve been through a trauma such as combat.
Representatives of Double Tree Hotel have issued an apology for an incident at a Colorado Springs location which brings back memories of these misdirected protests.
Young people don’t learn enough about history, and people in all age groups tend to forget notable things that have happened in their lifetimes. Anyone who recalls Vietnam Vets getting abuse from inexperienced people should know that what happened at Double Tree was outrageous. The problem is, there aren’t enough people who know what happened during the 1960s and 70s.
Say what you want about whether a particular military action is honorable. At the same time, also be aware that the people who serve in the Armed Forces are serving their country. We can’t survive without their protection, and very few of these individuals are eager to involve themselves in a conflict. If they become parties to something wrong while carrying out their duties professionally, our complaints must be directed to people much higher in the chain of command. Never walk up to an anonymous servicemember and say/do something bold.
At the end of this post, please find a link to Justin Wise’s MSN article on the Double Tree incident. Executives were right to respond immediately to a horrifying error in judgment by employees who apparently work in a local branch of the company. I hope those executives would have acted as quickly even if there hadn’t been media coverage. We should also hope the right people were held accountable.
Some events in history — including recent history — are noted by people who add, “Never forget.” The Vietnam-era abuse of servicemembers by civilians should be included in that long list of past misfortunes we must remember if we have any concern for the future.