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What Freedom Means - Memorial Day Edition May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

This blog is not going to be a motivator about weight loss. If you are looking for that today, move along.

This blog is about a story I want to share, and I will let it speak for itself.

Years ago, I was living in Wisconsin, and was working at the Veteran's Administration as a physician. I was assigned a group of young medical school students. We had an incredible opportunity one day to talk to the veterans and allow them to tell us their story. We met vets from different wars that the US was involved in, and these men had such different experiences. It was a living history lesson, a swatch of all our recent wars and a few distant ones.

The World War Two veteran: "We went over there to save the world!" He proudly told us.

The Iraqi War veteran: "We fought for freedom!" He was so young, and so proud.

And then the Vietnam veteran: And it was his story that affected me the most. Perhaps because he was old enough to be an older brother to me. I had to explain to the students how rare it was to see Vietnam vets using the VA facilities. They were so incredibly mistreated by our government, that many refused to ask for help from the government. He was a burly man, in his fifties at the time. One of the first vets to go to Vietnam in the mid 1960s. He told us that he and his buddies were nine who went over together. And two came home. He spoke as if all these events had just occurred last week, when in reality it was decades earlier. He cried. And my heart broke for him.

Our freedom comes at a heavy price. To truly appreciate what we have, even with all the flaws that make up our current oppositional political landscape, go live abroad and see what other countries have and then realize how much we take for granted.

If you encounter a vet today, let him or her know that you appreciate their service and their sacrifice which they made for our country and for us. It is because of these dedicated individuals that we are truly free.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh yeah, it's definitely the politicians I hold the grudge against... they didn't do right by the people they put in harm's way.
    1439 days ago
    ~nodding~ My Grandpa was in Korea and my StepDad was in Vietnam.
    The way they spoke about the wars were very different (I asked many times growing up before they finally shared stories with me when I was about college-aged). They both lost people and saw things they'd rather forget... but, they way they were treated was very different and I felt that left a bigger mark on both of them. (And no, my stepdad never used the VA, though my grandpa did.)

    "... on behalf of a grateful nation..." was spoken over both of their graves last year by the next generation in uniform... but, that nation should really treat them all better while they're living.
    1439 days ago
    Late to read this.
    My memories of the Vietnam war are just horrible. Joe left when DD (Hayburner1969) was a few weeks old. It took 40 years for Joe to tell me that the scars on his leg were not from falling over a metal chest, but from shrapnel. It was the first time he went to a reunion of his unit. It was very difficult especially seeing the parents of those young men who didn't return and those suffering the effects of the Agent Orange they were sprayed with. Then there was seeing the label of the dress I bought for the occasion "Made in Vietnam" Looks like we could get along with a Communist government after all, as long as there was profit to be made anyway.

    I could go on, but I got to tell my story 15 years ago as part of a PhD thesis. It was around the time that President Bush was welcoming the Vietnamese leadership to the White House. I certainly prefer good relations, but was it worth it? Absolutely not.

    Even now I wonder about those who oppose additional services to Veterans because "we can't afford it" and "must reduce the deficit" yet regularly say "thank you for your service" They need more thanks than just words.
    1484 days ago
    Their is a price for freedom, so many men and women have paid this price. Your blog does a wonderful job of honoring and remembering those who defend and serve. Amen!
    1485 days ago
    1485 days ago
    My husband was a Vietnam Veteran. He suffered from his memories. Young vietnamese children with bombs strapped to their bodies. The young American soldiers soldiers and the babies blown to small pieces as they tried to comfort them. So many never came home. America should be ashamed for forgetting them. Reach out and thank those veterans in your community and place a Flag on a Veterans grave this week-end.. Your blog touched me deeply. I know that the Veteran's Administration and veterans in general did not help Vietnam veterans right after the war but have made great strides in the last 15-20 years. Vietnam Veterans should be proud of their service and their country. We have our freedom because of their sacrifices.
    1486 days ago
  • _JODI404
    Thank you for sharing these impactful memories.

    It is very important to remember and appreciate the service and sacrifices of our Veterans. They deserve so much more than they receive.

    1486 days ago
    All I can do is thank you for this. There are so many who have paid so dearly, even with their lives, it is just fitting they should be remembered and honored.

    I am old enough to remember all the happenings of the Viet Nam war being served up nightly with the dinner time news. **SIGH** Just kind of numbed everyone, I think, to the reality of what was happening to our soldiers.

    Thank goodness the VA had someone as caring as you helping!
    1486 days ago
    My first job as an occupational therapist was with the Northampton, MA VA Hospital. As a student, I trained at two other VA hospitals. I learned a lot from those patients.

    emoticon for your message.
    1486 days ago
    Powerful blog.

    So many US draft resisters came to Canada during the Vietnam war: and became some of our very best, most thoughtful citizens. We cherish them.
    1486 days ago
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