Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Welcome Home: Belated Honor

People gathered for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 1982.
The Wall at the center

Sometimes cleaning out boxes of photos and snips of newspapers deliver surprises.  Articles usually about hometown news have grown brown and brittle, written about old friends now dead, long ago.

But, this one article made me sit down and read the entire article.  It was from the Quincy Herald-Whig, dated November 14, 1982.  

The headline read “150,000 cheer Viet War vets”, as they dedicated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial "The Wall", inscribed with the names of comrades who were killed or missing during this very controversial war:

"On a wintry day, over 8,000 veterans including families, disabled in wheelchairs or crutches, and those still grieving for the terrible loss, or those returned who had experienced rejection---now were honored and welcomed home.

It was a time of reunion for comrades who had survived and not seen each other since the Vietnam War ended.  

It was also a time for survivors to seek out family members to tell them “Your son saved my life…I was in Quang Tri in 1968…He was a good man…” To be able to tell loved ones about this special person now gone, left both in tears and hugging.

They walked down the Mall in D.C., joined by Ret. Gen. Westmoreland, and later by President Reagan.  He had been asked to be the keynote speaker, but declined, leaving that honor to someone else who had been in Vietnam."

What caught me was the closing paragraph in the newspaper article:

“William Peyton talked about becoming a policeman when he returned from Vietnam, but never got the chance. The helicopter crew chief was killed during the 1970 invasion of Cambodia."  His mother, Minerva Peyton was moved to tears by the new memorial. “Our boys deserve the recognition,” she said. “They did the best they could, under the circumstances.”

My cousin Billy was remembered that day by my Aunt Minerva.  On this day I remember and honor Billy Peyton as well.

Source

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20 comments:

  1. So sorry about your cousin. Incredible he and your aunt were mentioned. I remember when they dedicated the Wall, but I didn't watch it on television.

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    1. I was surprised seeing their names. Aunt Minerva was one of the Gold Star mothers who lobbied for the wall, very active.

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  2. So sorry about your cousin. This was so touching. I remember visiting the Wall not long after it was dedicated and it was such a moving experience. Years later I visited again and the experience was no less powerful. I also remember going to the exhibit of items left at the wall that was at the Smithsonian and I ended up in tears.

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    1. Just seeing the long black granite wall with all those chiseled names was a heart-breaking experience for me as well. The Veterans' Assc. arranged for a "traveling wall" that was moved around the country. That was no less impressive.

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  3. Finally got the recognition they deserved indeed.

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    1. Finally! But finally recognition for all those men and women. Some of the men were really just boys, barely out of school.

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  4. I think that the men in all wars were/are OFTEN boys. And age fast. Way too fast.
    Vietnam Vets received belated recognition here too. Sad. And bad.

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  5. That must have been an awesome inspiring event. "Under the circumstances" is a very telling qualifier. Vietnam presented a challenge to this country different that what we'd faced in the past. The vets from that conflict faced an unenviable circumstance.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. My Aunt Minerva and Uncle Everett never ever ceased mourning.

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  6. The Wall is a horrifying visual.....so many names.

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    1. First time I saw the 'moving/transported' wall, I was stunned.

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  7. Beautiful post and indeed, the Vietnam war was a controversial one.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in! Yes, controversial for sure.

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  8. And we must always honour and remember our men and women, past and present, who have served.

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    1. Some memory to pass down to our descendants.

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  9. I have seen that wall and cried. Those from Vietnam Nam were from my generation, my friends, my contemporaries, and the most handsome boy from my graduation class and the first one killed from my town, followed by others. Then the wounded came back, never to return to the people they once were. War changes everything.

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    1. Coming home as heroes in WW2 was in stark contrast to those in Vietnam. Alcohol was the most available drug.

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  10. I remember lots of complaints about that memorial when it came out. Am I misremembering? It's a great memorial.

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    1. There was grumbling and complaints about the Memorial. At that point the WW2 memorial had not yet been built.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!