Vietnam Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor and pay tribute to the brave men and women who served during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was arguably one of the most controversial and divisive conflicts in American history.
Vietnam Veterans Day is celebrated every year on March 29th, which is the anniversary of the day when combat and combat support units withdrew from Vietnam. It is important to note the difference in dates. On March 29, 1973, all U.S. combat units were removed from Vietnam and the United States pulled out of Vietnam.
Over the next two years, as stipulations in the peace accord were ironed out and implemented, the U.S. military slowly moved troops and equipment out of the region. Behind the scenes, American diplomats struggled to come to terms that were agreeable with all parties.
Having rebuilt their forces and upgraded their logistics system, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) triggered a major offensive in the Central Highlands in March 1975. On April 30, 1975, NVA tanks rolled through the gate of the Presidential Palace in Saigon, effectively ending the war for real. However, March 29, 1973 is the date recognized as the official end of combat operations by the United States, and April 30, 1975 is the day that is recognized as the official end of the war.
In this blog post, we will explore the origin of Vietnam Veterans Day, its importance, and some interesting facts about the day and the war.
Vietnam War Background
The Vietnam War took place from 1955 to 1975 and was fought between the North Vietnamese Army/ Viet Cong and the United States. The war claimed millions of lives, and those who survived often came back wounded, scarred, or facing unresolved traumas. Unfortunately, many Vietnam veterans returned to the United States to a less than favorable reception from the public.
Veterans faced discrimination, hostility, and neglect, which made their transition back into civilian life even more difficult. This is why the observance of Vietnam Veterans Day is significant, as it acknowledges the sacrifice and bravery of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War.
More than 58,000 U.S. military personnel died in the Vietnam War. Of that, 47,434 died in combat.
Vietnam Veterans Day Concept
The idea of Vietnam Veterans Day began as a grassroots effort, with individual states observing the day in different ways. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan officially declared March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day, which was commemorated with a parade in Washington, D.C. However, it wasn't until 2017 that the day became a national holiday with the passage of the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act.
Today, Vietnam Veterans Day is celebrated across the country with ceremonies, parades, and other events to honor and pay homage to veterans of the Vietnam War and recognize their sacrifices.
Vietnam War Facts
One of the most interesting facts about the Vietnam War is that the draft was instituted during this time, which affected millions of young Americans. A significant number of the draftees went on to serve in Vietnam, including many who opposed the war in principle but felt compelled to serve their country.
The Vietnam War was fought in very challenging conditions, from dense jungle terrain to harsh weather conditions. The soldiers had to endure extreme heat, leech-infested swamps, and challenging mountain ranges, to name a few.
Another fact about the Vietnam War is that it was a war without borders. The enemy hid among civilians and employed guerilla tactics as well as traditional warfare. The tactics employed by the Viet Cong forced the American soldiers to fight with a different set of rules, which resulted in numerous casualties and created long-term mental and physical challenges for the combatants.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, while the majority of Vietnam Veterans successfully readjusted to postwar life, a substantial minority of Vietnam-era Veterans have suffered from a variety of psychological problems, and have experienced a wide range of life-adjustment problems.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military used more than 19 million gallons of various herbicides for defoliation and crop destruction in the Republic of Vietnam. Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime during the period beginning Jan. 9, 1962, and ending May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.
These facts are solid reasons as to why we celebrate Vietnam Veterans Day.
Vietnam Veterans Day is a day to honor and pay tribute to the brave men and women who served in the Vietnam War. March 29th marks the day combat and combat support units withdrew from Vietnam. While Americans did not immediately recognize the efforts and sacrifice of these brave soldiers, we now regularly celebrate and thank veterans for their service.
Part of the reason Americans thank military personnel for their service is because of how poorly the Nation treated American servicemembers when they came home from the Vietnam War. There is a reenergized sense of gratitude for veterans in this nation now that collectively we have seen that we did an injustice to the Vietnam veterans who returned home from war and service to their country.
Rather than level our disappointment on the political establishment, we instead, as a nation, mistakenly mistreated our veterans for actions politicians ordered. The hatred and disappointment of the American public was misdirected and today, we celebrate Vietnam Veterans Day to make up for it.
It is essential for us to remember those who have risked everything to serve their country, and we hope that this tradition of remembrance will continue for generations to come. Soldiers do not unilaterally decide to go to war. It is elected officials, our lawmakers, who identify friend or foe, and declare war on nations. Soldiers merely execute directives.
Vietnam Veterans did their duty and they did it honorably. They did not lose their battles, but their nation walked away from their war and from them. Today, we celebrate Vietnam Veterans Day to make amends.