Readers’ Voice

Say “Welcome Home” or “Thank You” to a Veteran


   “Welcome home” are two of the most valued words that can be said to any Vietnam veteran. Those two words were not heard when we returned home to our United States of America, a country we loved and were so proud to fight for.
   Some of us were spit on and called vile names as we got off the planes at the airport. It broke our hearts and made us feel ashamed. We did what we had to and were trained to do. “War is hell,” as they say.
   I’m a disabled Vietnam veteran and always say, “welcome home” to any Vietnam brother of mine I come in contact with. It does not have to be a Vietnam veteran... a “thank you” to all veterans will do.
   Remember each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say, “welcome home” or “thank you.” That’s all most veterans need and, in most cases, it will mean more to them than any medals they could have been awarded.
   A pastor named Dennis Edward O’Brien once said, “Remember, it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who served beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
   Veterans Day is very important for me. I look forward to it, although it’s a time of sadness. I feel proud to be around brothers of all wars on this special day. I thank the Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers I meet and its a great feeling to say to them, “Welcome Home!”
   I try to teach my grandchildren how to remember Veterans Day. It’s the 11th month, the 11th day, and the 11th hour of each year.
   I try to teach my whole family about Vietnam and about war. A person has to be in a war in a foreign country to fully understand - what war is and what it does to a person.
   I was in the army infantry in Vietnam - a combat soldier. I served with the 1/11 Armored Cavalry Blackhorse Division from 1965 through 1967. I found out very quickly why we were called “grunts” - we were foot soldiers who walked forever in the jungle, grunting because of our backpack and gun we had to carry.
   Being in Vietnam was the very worst time in my whole life. I missed home in Paw Paw. I just wanted to go home, take a hot shower, eat human food, act like a human, and have someone tell me “welcome home.”
   I wonder sometimes how I ever made it home. I thank my lord for that! I think I learned just how fortunate we all are to live in a land, like our great United States of America.
   On Veterans Day, two little words - “welcome home” or “thank you” - will make a veteran’s day. Try it! It will give you, and the vet, a good feeling inside!
   Henry R. Franken
   1963 Paw Paw High School graduate

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-5080

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