A Vietnam memory on Memorial Day

How talking to a young serviceman
rekindled an old serviceman’s pride
Vietnam may have receded so far in the past that few Americans remember how badly G.I’s were treated when they returned home. It’s a fading memory, except for us, the veterans of that war. 

I still remember yard signs in 1967 and 1968 that read “Sailors and Dogs, keep off the Grass” and taunts when we wore our uniform in public. Most of us do not want to discuss or relive our Vietnam experiences because we were often blamed for the conflict.

An encounter with a young Navy man last week during a flight from San Diego rekindled my pride in having served. My seatmate was a young Navy man, just as I had been, and we talked about our different roles and experiences in the service. His pride in serving his country was obvious as we chatted for an hour or so about his pursuit of a Navy career. 

As we departed the plane, he touched my arm, looked at me and said: “Thank you for your service.” I was so startled I got a lump in my throat and could barely whisper: “Thank you too, young man,” as tears came to my eyes.  

Our nation’s pride in its military men and women today is moving, particularly this recognition of those of us who served in Vietnam.

Fred York
U.S. Navy, 1964-68
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 

(Fred is a good friend who lives in San Miguel with his husband Ron. He submitted this letter to the editor of the San Antonio Express-News.)

2 thoughts on “A Vietnam memory on Memorial Day

  1. We had the pleasure of spending time with Fred and Ron when we spent three months in San Miguel. I did not know he served. Sadly Fred hurt his knee and was unable to lead the walking tour so Peter and I missed out. We left it to the end of our stay. Fred and Ron will always occupy a space in our hearts. Cheers


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