Letters to the Editor 10-22-2002

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 21, 2002

Welcome home


Dear Editor:

Joe Galloway, co-author of We Were Soldiers Once…And Young, calmly walked up to the front door of the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker on Oct. 17, 2002. He was there for a book signing – signing the book he wrote along with General Harold Moore which has been made into a movie We Were Soldiers.

I was there. I am a veteran of the Vietnam War. I wanted to get Joe to sign a copy of his book for me plus I wanted to meet him.

A long line of people were inside the museum waiting for Joe to arrive. Most of them already had a copy of the book. They waited patiently – as did I – for my turn. There must have been well over one hundred people waiting in line. Obviously, I had plenty of time to "people watch" and ponder.

I was struck by the fact that most of these people were young – some in civilian clothes and some in uniform. I thought to myself: "I would wager that half of these fine folks were not even born when I was wounded in Vietnam and came home in 1964."

I had the opportunity – while in line – to chat with several young army aviators. We compared notes such as flight school in my day 1962-63 compared with today. We as student pilots were allowed to "shoot" touch down autorotations then. I get the idea that such is basically taboo now.

Still in line pondering and thinking: "The mere fact that these fine young men and women are here is their way of saying 'WELCOME HOME' to us old timers." They would not have stood in line for more than an hour if they did not care about "our war" because We Were Soldiers Once…And Young

is about "our wa," the war that lasted from about 1961 to 1975.

We are ol' soldiers now. But, our minds are still keen; and we remember. Oh! How do we remember!

To all of you who stood in that line, I say thank you! You voted to welcome we Vietnam veterans home. You voted with your feet – by standing – and that put a smile on this fading veteran's face. Thank you!

John B. Givhan