Marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War, President Obama gave a speech in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall lamenting the way returning veterans were treated by their fellow Americans following their tours of duty.
Acknowledging that the Vietnam War marked “one of the most painful chapters or our history,” President Obama addressed the issue of how soldiers are treated and were treated when they arrived back on US shores following the controversial conflict.
Standing in front of the memorial, President Obama described the “shame” of how Vietnam vets were welcomed back, saying:
“You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. 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. And so a central part of this 50th anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along.”
Of the lessons to be learned from the 60,000 serviceman lives lost and countless others ruined by the Vietnam War, Obama said:
“Let us resolve that when America sends our sons and daughters into harm’s way, we will always give them a clear mission, we will always give them a sound strategy, we will give them the equipment they need to get the job done. We will have their backs.”
President Obama also spoke of ending veteran homelessness as well as funding college for Iraq and Afghanistan vets.