Healing a National Shame

President Obama on Monday called on all Americans to help “set the record straight” on the noble service and sacrifice of US military personnel who served in the Vietnam War. “One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam—most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there,” said the President during a Memorial Day speech at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. His remarks launched the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of America’s involvement in that conflict. He said to the gathered Vietnam War veterans: “You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today, we resolve that it will not happen again.” He said the national commemoration is “another opportunity to say to our Vietnam veterans what we should have been saying from the beginning: You did your job. You served with honor. . . . You have earned your place among the greatest generations. . . . Thank you. We appreciate you. Welcome home.” (Obama’s remarks) (See also Panetta’s remarks and Vietnam War commemoration website.)