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A Special Message From a World War II Veteran to All You Vietnam Veterans

By Stan Scislowski

   I promised someone, a Vietnam Veteran, that one day he would see this; a letter, a statement like this.

   When I read it, well, yes, you can smile and shed copious tears at the same time.

   So across the years, across the wars.

   Bless you, Stan, for this.

                Our Viet Nam Comrades

    Never have I ever given thought to seeing the day when I'd  allow myself to be carried away with emotion over watching a long parade of motorcyclists drive by-but on this day, Saturday afternoon, July 10th,as I stood on the driveway of my house on Cabana Road, I was indeed moved.
    What made it even stranger was the fact that this was a parade involving Viet Nam Veterans for which I have to admit,I disgracefully and wrongfully, for much too long, looked on with some degree of disdain. This was for various reasons which I'll not go into. Let me just say that when I looked at these veterans  proudly astride their Harleys, their Yamahas, their Suzukis and other makes of 'cycles', as they rode by slowly in parade discipline, two abreast, something within me stirred and I stifled a sob.
    This had happened to me only once before in 1975 on a military pilgrimage  to Italy.  It was when  I entered Cassino War Cemetery for the first time and saw the wide spread of row on row on row of white headstones.
    And now here, 24 years later, though I did not sob,  I couldn't stop my eyes from misting over.
    And suddenly I knew why.
    I was proud of what they were doing in behalf of those Canadian young lads who died in the jungles, in the swamps and in the highlands, where death was ever-present all around them. It was a brotherhood forged in the fires of combat, and since I knew what it was like to go rifle in hand and fear in my heart into battle time and time again, I felt a bonding between myself and those guys riding  by straight and proud in their mottled combat uniforms.
    These men, comrades all, made the trek from points all across Canada and from many communities in the States to take part in the Memorial Service at the recently erected monument to Canadians who gave their lives in the Viet Nam War.
    It was a totally different display of remembrance and comradeship than what I was used to in so many Royal Canadian Legion observances of the same kind. But it was as sincere and as meaningful as any I've been a part of.
    At war's end, these men, who, through the good fortunes of war,survived, came back to  an unmoved and uncaring  citizenry, facing disdain and at times even scorn by their own kind, and that includes  veterans of other wars.
   And I was one of them.
   I looked upon them as something a little less than human. It took me a long while to look beyond my prejudice and see the light.
   I  had done extensive reading about that unpopular war, that unjust war, and the more I read, the more I was supremely glad I  hadn't had  to fight their kind of war.
  At least I knew where my enemy lay-straight ahead-not all around me. I also didn't have to face the crude, but horrifying weapons the North Viet Namese employed against the U.S. Forces.  In Viet Nam, death in all its abominable and disgusting ways, besides the regular means of killing soldiers  awaited the ranks  advancing  through open country or jungle.  Thank God! I didn't have to face the horrors of that kind of war.
    As of today, almost 40 years later, on this sunny July afternoon I came awake and realized how  wrong I'd been in my attitude to the veterans of Viet Nam.  As of this day I will extend the right hand of brotherhood and comradeship to my fellow citizens who saw fit to take arms in a cause, though wrong in policy and wrong in strategy, was as noble a gesture as any shown by those who served their country in war-in any war.
    Welcome home Comrades!



Thank you Stan, wherever your soul is. Thank you for your service and your open heart. It is never too late to reach out. Now it is the responsibility of those of us who survived 'The American War' in Viet Nam to extend a hand to our U.S. and Canadian brothers and sisters returning from current conflicts. Never again can we allow the sacrifices of those who have served to go unacknowledged or their service to be dishonored.

Posted by: Christopher Gaynor, at 2012-02-22 06:52:18

This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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