Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Editorial: Veterans deserve our unqualified gratitude

When it comes to war, we Americans can be a fickle lot. Immediately after 9/11, calls for war reached a fevered pitch. And so we became mired in a war in Afghanistan that has become the longest in our nation’s history.

Now public attitudes are turning against that war. And those feelings have become even more pronounced after a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a shooting rampage and killed 17 Afghan civilians – mostly children.

Public sentiment turned markedly against another war in another generation. The war in Vietnam fell out of public favor after years of fighting and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers’ deaths.

In one of the more shameful episodes in U.S. public sentiment, much of that hostility toward the Vietnam War was misdirected toward the soldiers returning home. They were greeted with jeers and insults, even violence in some cases.

Though it still awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives, a resolution designating today as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day has been passed by the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Senate.

There’s no way to rectify the misguided anger of some 40 years ago. But there is still a chance to thank a Vietnam vet who sacrificed so much and got so little in return.

And there’s an opportunity to avoid repeating past mistakes as the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers – including many from right here in Montana – return from Afghanistan in the coming months.

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