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 protesters, 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.
Photo credit: David Lisbona (Flickr)
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