I’ve just finished viewing the PBS series, The VietNam War, and have come to this thought: Those of you who served the country during this time—whether or not in combat, whether or not willingly—may be America’s next “Greatest Generation.” Looking at the world and life through the eyes of the men and women in the documentary, I’m pretty sure that we may have underestimated your importance to our nation. We haven’t been paying close enough attention to what you did, and more importantly, to what you were learning.
Adding to that thought, it may be possible that the generations coming up could learn from your experiences the kinds of lessons that WWII veterans taught our generation back in the day. You could very well be their teachers, their examples, their connections to what’s important for the future.
It may be possible that this series of documentary films has opened windows and doors for you: You can start to tell more of us what you learned. Not only about the horrors of war or the vagaries of egocentric decision-making, but also about enduring values that bind people together—including those with a spiritual core. About what you will never forget. About your heroes, the vows you made about your life, the evils you never want to be part of. The good that you’ve tried to do since coming home. The sparks of hope that were first ignited in VietNam.
Forgive our society for not appreciating you for all these years. Consider the ways in which your mature witness now could keep us from entering needless wars in the future. And if you’ve been hanging back all these years, please don’t be silent any more.
Because of the PBS special, now we know it: You may be the new Greatest Generation!