We congratulate: A Christmas gift for Vietnam veterans

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We're glad a group of Vietnam War veterans got the tribute they deserved during the Shelbyville Christmas parade.

We only can be ashamed that this took so long, but the inclusion in the Shelbyville Christmas parade of a group of former Vietnam War veterans was a wonderful holiday gift for these men and for our community.

The concept of the parade ride, coordinated by Janie James at Shelbyville VFW Post 1179, means that these veterans finally received a public thank you for the sacrifices they endured to serve in the jungles of Vietnam.

We understand that the Vietnam War was no gold-leafed page in our nation’s history. We understand the loss of life in a battle that so many have questioned and protested. We understand the trauma.

But our questions and protests never should have been directed at those who served, who did so out of moral obligation to serve at a nation’s command or because the law required that they be drafted into service and trained for the battlefield.

These men did nothing different than any other solder or sailor or Marine would have done in any other conflict. They did as we, the public, expect them to do. They fought for our freedom and for peace.

But that effort earned only disdain and disrespect, not the accolades they deserved. Marine veteran Barry Campbell even said he was “spit on” at his return. We can’t conceive of such hostility to the average warrior.

Thus we were glad when Ms. James arranged for several of them to pile into vehicles and take a 2-mile ride through Shelbyville and were elated that they were cheered as they should have been 40-plus years ago.

We are cheered, too, by the idea that some smiles healed old wounds and returned pride to the hearts of men whose pride never should have been questioned.

Great idea, Ms. James. We’re glad you worked out this moment and presented a great holiday gift.