The other night, I made it to Austin’s RWA meeting. I feel continually horrible because I don’t get down there nearly enough and I’ve been struggling through so much crap at home that the thought of driving over an hour each way was enough to keep me away. But the stars aligned and despite some really horrible news that I can’t share publicly yet that morning, I managed to get down there. Emily McKay and Robyn DeHart gave a fantastic workshop on revisions, which is exactly where I’m at right now. If you haven’t had a chance to hear them stop by and definitely sit in on one. It’s both hysterical and informative.

But afterwards, when we were all heading home, one of the gals (and I won’t name her b/c I haven’t asked her permission) stopped me. She said she knows that everyone always says thanks to the troops but she wanted to tell me herself how much she admired my service. She mentioned that her dad and her grandfather had both served in Vietnam and World War II. I asked her to pass along my thanks to her family’s soldiers but then something else hit me.

I asked to particularly say thanks to her dad because when he came home, there were no parades and thank you’s. No celebrations. Even now, more three decades since our soldiers finally came home, we as a nation look back on that war and the warriors who were part of it with a bag of mixed emotions. Today, politicians lie about having served but back then they were heading for the hall of education instead of the airplanes taking them to war.

I didn’t live during that time but my parents did and several folks that I talk to regularly. I’ve asked for help on research during that time period for a book that I will someday finish and get into revising but still, understanding a society that was so hostile to our soldiers who, at that time, were drafted. Some volunteered but most were there because they didn’t have a way into the Guard or to get a college deferment.

I’m not here to comment on the war or the way that administration carried it out or the politics behind it.

Today, I just want to say thank you to our Vietnam Veterans. You bore the country’s will into an unpopular battle and did what you had to do to come home to your families. You were asked to fight a war our people did not support and became the focus of rage toward a government that refused to listen to its people. Thank you. Thank you for your service. You stood back when protesters spit on you and called you names that they should be ashamed of because while they were sitting back home, safely doing pot and getting in touch with nature, you were in touch with nature in the jungles and the heat and the rain.

Thank you. You more than any other group of our soldiers deserve our thanks because you, more than any other group, have borne the heaviest legacy.

Thank you.