United, we will overcome and win ...
A guest editorial that takes a look at today's patriotism, while remembering conditions ten years ago ... and the sin of bragging about a hole-in-one ----Editor's note: This guest editorial was offered by Crook County's Russ Hanson. It was written in 1991 when, as Major Russell Hanson, he was assigned to Fr. Devens, Mass. He write the article, he explained in the letter that follows, because "I was tired of people writing articles in the paper" about their patriotism. With today's surge of patriotism it seems appropriate to share Hansen's ten-year old comments.
No welcome home, yellow ribbons for Vietnam Veterans
Over the past couple months, I have listened to people say that they felt that those who didn't have a yellow ribbon or a flag flying from their front porch were unpatriotic and do not support the soldiers overseas.
I have been in the service for over 21 years and have supported the American Flag and all it stands for. I did two tours in Southeast Asia and returned from the last tour in Vietnam in 1972 to a country that had totally shunned me and all the men that served before me and with me.
We were no different then, than the men and women that are serving today. It's just that we were not part of a popular war. The politicians had taken over the control of the war and maintained a few puppet military leaders to keep their cause going. We, the soldiers that served there, took the disrespect that the politicians managed to generate playing their own game of soldier.
I remember returning to Travis AFB, California, from Vietnam in 1972. The Army had taken my jungle fatigues and field clothes. They issued me a set of X-tra large Khakis for my medium framed and a pair of shoes that would of made Tinkerbell the Clown proud. They turned me loose at the gates of San Francisco to go on leave in a country that I did not even recognize, a country that did not want to recognize me.
I don't fly a flag except on holidays and I won't hang up a yellow ribbon to make up for any guilt from past sins. What I have done and continue to do is my job. I will continue to work 11-12 hours a day, six to seven days a week. I will continue to assist the wives and children that remain and to relieve the minds of their husbands or wives that are overseas, so that they can do their job and return. But bitterness and hurt is still too fresh in my mind to forgive the politicians, the manufacturers, and the American public who totally forgot us in Vietnam.
Yes, continue to send letters and your support, I know how it feels not to get many letters or packages. In 1972 when Vice President Spiro Agnew wanted to placate the American people and show that the government had withdrawn all the soldiers above Danang, he took away our APO mailbox. There were still 200 plus of us manning the 8th RRFSS and other units, but as far as the American public was concerned we weren't there. One of the two packages sent to me reached me four months after I got home from Vietnam.
I guess part of my bitterness is jealousy. I am jealous of all the attention and respect that the soldiers in Saudi are getting. In January of this year, while getting a fishing license at the courthouse during lunch, an old lady approached me and said, "thank you, Thank you for being a good soldier, and God bless you if you must go fight."
That's the only thank you I have gotten from anyone - either in the Army or outside the Army - in over 21 years.
Support my fellow soldiers, I support them with my respect, my blood, my time, and my knowledge and I will support them with my presence if I am called to join them in Saudi. Support them with a yellow ribbon or flag - I can't do that yet, but someday I hope I will be able to.
I wrote this in 1991 when I was assigned to Ft. Devens, Mass., I was tired of people writing articles in the paper saying how unpatriotic it was of some people not to fly the flag or display a yellow ribbon for Desert Storm.
Today I have no problem flying the American flag. The attack on America was an attack on our way of life, and our freedom that was won by millions before us either in or out of the military. Today I would be one to say why don't people fly their flag. In 1991 I didn't fly the flag for Desert Storm because I felt people were "doing the patriotic thing" due to guilt over how they treated the soldiers during and after Vietnam, but now this is different. We need to show all the terrorists or individuals that have no respect for human life that we as a Nation are united as one to defend and protect our way of life regardless of what it costs.
To see the rioters overseas burn and trample our flag is enough to make you wish that you could be the one to push the button to drop a nuclear bomb where it would do the most good. We as a people need to continue to fly our flags to show the politicians that we are a nation and that we will not forget what has happened, and that they as leaders shouldn't forget either. Our enemies should be made to learn that, yes they managed to kill some innocent Americans and destroy thousands of families, but they will also learn that they have wakened the Sleeping Giant, and we will survive, we are united, and we will win.
On a "you had to see it to believe it" note:
Which Crook County Commissioner got a hole-in-one on the eighth hole at Meadow Lakes recently?
According to the report, this person did not want to make a big thing of it because, "I was supposed to be working." On the other hand, according to the same report, his only witness was his son, so, knowing the commissioner's golfing skills, there might be some who would question the entire event.