Honoring the history of Vietnam veterans
DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — On March 29, National Vietnam War Veterans Day, Americans remember all who fought during that time... and those who lost their lives in Southeast Asia.
"It took me years before I could go down to that memorial," said Vietnam veteran Dale Howard, speaking of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
The conflict began 68 years ago, but the memories remain fresh in the minds of those who were there.
"The Vietnamese took over so many of the portions of so many cities, and there was such a large loss of life," said Donalt Ward, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.
"In Da Nang, we had bodies stacked up; that's part of war. It's not a pleasant part of war, but it is fact."
During those years, American soldiers were ready to fight for democracy, while back home public opinion was split.
"The people who supported the war and those that did not, and I joined," Howard said. "I didn't say I supported the war, but I supported our country and what I thought it stood for."
The Perrin Air Force Base Historical Museum has a special exhibit that honors one Texoman who gave his life in the Vietnam War.
"This display was dedicated to Jimmy Burchfield, who was from Whitewright," said Howard. "He joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam and was killed the day he entered that country. I'm 76 years old. I've got children. I have jobs. I have family. I work here voluntarily. This kid was killed and never got to do any of that."
Along with honoring history, Vietnam veterans hope we can learn from our past.
"It's important from a purely historical aspect that gives guidance that tells us how we should act in the future," Ward said. "We haven't always needed those lessons, but it does... there are lessons we need to learn."