May 12, 2010

Wisconsin to Honor Vietnam War Veterans

Madison, Wisconsin—The Vietnam War veterans were betrayed.

That's not the official slogan of the welcome-home Vietnam War veterans event to held be May 21-23 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The official slogan is "LZ Lambeau."

But the message is clear, and it's a long time coming.

Wisconsin stood out during national opposition to the Vietnam War as citizens protested the lies of Democratic and Republican administrations.

Over time, history has proven the anti-war citizens right, the pro-war politicians wrong and certain members of various police departments who violently tore away the liberty of Americans as thugs.

A woman who lost her baby and a man who lost his sight are repulsive artifacts of the police attack on the anti-Dow (naplam) demonstrations held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in 1967, for example.

Lost in the historical accounting are the Vietnam War veterans, some of whom became allies of the peace movement, most of whom were forgotten or abused.

But not in Wisconsin, not any more.

A veteran at the Rustic Tavern on Park Street in Madison told me couple of weeks back that for a long time during and after the Vietnam War numerous service organization posts would not allow Vietnam War veterans into their establishments. Today, this is unthinkable.

Now, the voices at home are not protesting napalm, but other chemicals like Agent Orange to which our veterans, our veterans, were exposed and then left to rot. To this day Agent Orange and the War inflict horrible damage onto the people who served our country. That's wrong.

That's not something everyone gets over at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs. It's not something Dr. Sally Satel and the American Enterprise Institute understand.

Wisconsin gets it.

Pat Schneider at the Madison Capital Times has a superior piece on Wisconsin and Vietnam War veterans out today. An excerpt is below:
Odean Dorr won’t be going to LZ Lambeau, although he thinks it’s a great idea. His doctor says he shouldn’t. A former tunnel rat who went down into the winding underground chambers where the enemy hid or stashed ammunition or medical supplies, Dorr developed a creeping claustrophobia in his final days in Vietnam. In the years since, his PTSD has metastasized into a phobia of crowds, a fear of the dark that stalks his everyday life. I can’t go into an elevator, sometimes I can’t go into a room unless the light is on, he says. Dorr is one of several men at a recent meeting of Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans at an east-side VFW hall who hesitates just a moment before telling his story to a visitor. The call for oral histories engendered by the public television project seems to have opened a floodgate. After years of keeping it in, Dorr says, he finds it easier to tell his story each time. I’m trying to get it out, he says.

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