Correcting History: How Vietnam Vets Were Embraced ~ Video

By Dr. Joseph Horton

Correcting History: How Vietnam Vets Were Embraced
Correcting History: How Vietnam Vets Were Embraced
The Center For Vision & Values
The Center For Vision & Values

Grove City, PA –-( Why is it that the American people rejected our troops who served in Vietnam?

We know all about the protests not only against the war, but against those who served. Why were there no demonstrations of support? Why was there no welcome home parade?

What if what we know about Americans’ lack of support for our troops in Vietnam is wrong?

Impressive evidence has been revealed showing what we thought we knew was wrong all along.

The media have a great deal of control over the events that we think about. We only know about current events that get reported. When events are omitted from the record, history is effectively changed. In the early 1970s we had only three national TV networks and a few newspapers that had a national reach. Today, the Internet is making it harder for important events to ignored. We can now read news from a vast number of outlets, both major and minor, from around the world.

The Internet is also permitting the collection and dissemination of historical material that was largely ignored outside of the local media during the Vietnam War. Americans’ patriotism did not wane during Vietnam, it was simply not widely reported. This collection of our forgotten history can be found at a new website sponsored by NCRP, the National Committee for Responsible Patriotism, a group that has been around for many years but more recently has been forgotten.

Included in this online repository is rare video of the third longest parade in U.S. history. That parade was called the “Support Our Men In Vietnam Parade.” This parade lasted nearly nine hours, through the heart of New York City. There were approximately 250,000 people, including 15,000 Teamsters, 10,000 Longshoreman and 6,000 union carpenters. Vast numbers of young people can be seen marching. The parade was reported locally in New York, but not nationally.

This enormous parade was not the only event in support of our troops in New York. On March 31, 1973, “Home With Honor Day” was celebrated at a parade with more than 150,000 people. There were 1,000 soldiers at the head of the parade. At the end of the parade route the troops sat in grandstands and were thanked and celebrated by the marchers. To be sure that it could never be said that our troops came home with no brass bands to welcome them, 100 brass bands were in the parade.

Again, there was no national press coverage.

Yes, there were people who protested the war. It is true that many returning soldiers were treated abominably and disrespectfully at the airport when returning from Vietnam. Our returning soldiers returned home as individuals rather than in units and almost always passed through one of three airports: Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. Because individual soldiers could be harassed more easily than a group and only three airports needed to be staffed by protestors, the despicable acts against our men in uniform were committed by a relatively small group of people who not only opposed the war but America and its values as well.

The behavior of a small group of radicals in no way represents the American people!

Indeed many typical Americans went out of their way to show support. In 1967, during the weekend of October 21, as part of “Operation Gratitude,” there were demonstrations in support of our soldiers in at least 75 cites. The demonstrations in support of our troops were essentially ignored by the media. In a nine-page story about a group of anti-war protestors, Time magazine had one sentence about the demonstrations of support.

It also turns out that the popular image of Vietnam veterans as emotionally unstable, chemically dependent, and unsuccessful turns out to be false. On average, Vietnam vets have better mental health and are more successful than non-vets from the same era.

The media have great power to determine which events we are aware of and which we are not. This is the power to shape history. Blessedly, the Internet is making it easier to have a broader awareness of events both present and past.

Thank you, Vietnam vets! You are loved, appreciated, and respected by the American people. Likely you were loved, appreciated, and respected more than you knew. It is time to fully correct this historical ignorance and give our Vietnam vets the heritage they deserve.


—Dr. Joseph J. Horton is professor of psychology at Grove City College and the Working Group Coordinator for Marriage and Family with The Center for Vision & Values. He is also a researcher on Positive Youth Development.

  • 9 thoughts on “Correcting History: How Vietnam Vets Were Embraced ~ Video

    1. I came back twice. may68, October 69. Man if you even looked like you were in the service nobody would even talk to you unless they were trying to sell you something. Stewardess on plans didn’t even acknowledge I was there while offering the guy next to me d all kinds of amenities. It was worse if you were in uniform, which coming back they even told us not to wear in public. I had girls tell me I was a baby killer and guys told me I was stupid. actually the anti war people treated me the best. They actually seemed genuinely interested in what was going on in the Nam. Even after service those years on your resume came up. I had more than one employer end the interview when It came out I had been to Vietnam. Employers, traditional vet groups were the worst. It wasn’t just the media. Far as I could see and feel,it was the general population. Your stats don’t mean anything.

    2. Thank you for the kind words Bruce. I stayed in for 22 years and suffered some abuse for my Nam service. Being a “lifer”, I was surrounded by my peers for the most part and didn’t get the abuse the Nam Vets did when they got out. Still proud of my service and would do it again. If you don’t have something to believe in, what DO you have?
      Nam 67-68

    3. When I got back from desert storm, I felt disgusted at the parades and grandstanding we received for what I truly believe was the good luck that we saw very little direct combat that was involved. I was an Army infantryman stationed on the Saudi border to be the first line of defense against an invasion that never materialized. My attitude began to change though when I saw that most people learned to respect and finally treat the Vietnam Vets who saw more and gave more than we ever had to. I have always been proud of what the soldiers did in Vietnam. You were placed in a bad situation from start to finish and it only got worse once you escaped that hell-hole only to enter another one in your home country. I am sorry that it took a war for oil to garner the respect you should have gotten two decades prior. But I would like to end with a hearty thank you for your service.

    4. The govt the va etc are still screwing over the viet-nam vets. We did not get help then and we still have to fight to get anything today. The govt even went so far as to drop ALL viet-nam vets benefits for a short period of time. It happened to me, so I know. I never have seen a thanks for my time served during that time. But I do love my country, and would do it again. Served US Army 64 to 66. I could write a book on all of the misgivings of the govt and the VA, but than-again we all could.

    5. Most of us returned as individuals for discharge or on leave. We were spit on, called baby killers, and were given the “stink eye” for years. This went on til 1991 when the Gulf War went on. You are citing one parade as proof that we were supported?????? I got back in Jul 70 and it was really bad in OR and WA as I was never able to hide from the stigma and prejudice. A friend that worked with the VA told me that there were over 250,000 suicides of Vietnam veterans since returning from the war. This was due to lack of support from the VA, government, and the prejudice of the American people! There was no help for PTSD and Agent Orange problems for too many years and so a lot of folks just lost hope.
      Do not bullshit me with platitudes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6. I picked up a friends brother from the main bus terminal in nyc in dec 74. He had served in viet nam and was going to muster out in nj. He had to travel accross country in uniform. When we met him 4 peopel got in his face and said baby killer and spit on him one time too many. A fight started and when the police came only the intervention of a police captain a Korean war vet prevented the soldier and myself from arrest. the people who spit on it admited it and were shocked when arrested.

    7. Let’s not forget, the vast majority of Vietnam vets where forced to join the military through the draft. Many would not have “served” if not drafted, this vet included. Serve or go to jail. I expressed my opposition to the war on several occasions to the drill instructors during basic training. Don’t get me wrong, I would and still will take up arms to defend a direct attack against our nation.

      Apologies should expressed to vets instead of thanks, especially to the Vietnam gold star families.

      1. The majority were volunteers, enlistees.
        The draft dodgers made draftees victims and political pawns.

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