The person who spat on me was wearing a shirt that said “Welcome Home Baby Killer.” The $100 a plate at the Commodore tonight — I wonder how many of the vets on welfare will be there. Back in the States, Langenus quickly discovered the GI benefits available for Vietnam veterans “were almost nonexistent.” While living in New York, he developed symptoms of malaria—a tropical disease fairly uncommon in the concrete jungle—yet he was denied VA health care because he didn’t display those symptoms in Vietnam. “And instead of getting return peace fingers, I got the middle finger.”. Peter Langenus, today the Commander of VFW Post 653 in New Canaan, Connecticut, commanded Delta Company, 3rd Battalion/7th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade from 1969-70. And for the men who served … “Deeds need to be done in addition to words,” says Wowwk, who is 100 percent disabled from his Vietnam wounds. Journal of American Studies, Vol. of the Monument to the Vietnam War Dead in Washington, D.C. signs saying: "You're Our Heroes, Vietnam Vets. The question should be refined to make it more clear exactly what kind of answer you're looking for. a congressman's speech), one would also have to believe of the protesters: "From beginning to end, it was an unrestrained public spectacle of and immorality, an incredible challenge to all rules of moral conduct. In 1982 Vietnam veterans march down Constitution Avenue toward the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which would be dedicated later that day. The grunts are restless. Jerry Davich who writes for the Post-Tribune a Chicago Sun Times Publication adds support to my theory that Vietnam Vets were not spit on when they returned. Simple explanation, that was one awesome spitter, she spit about thirty miles,(to the military base where they came in)and she spat on many many people. Disrespect for Vietnam vets is fact, not fiction. (SALEM, Ore.) - Americans overwhelmingly believe that U.S. combat veterans returning from Vietnam were spit on by anti-war protesters in airports. 1 (Apr., 1992), pp. There is not one single CONTEMPORARY report documented in any newspaper, magazine, publication, police report, etc at the time of a VIETNAM returning service member being SPIT ON at an AIRPORT.” Maybe there is but no one has been able to point to one. An oddity associated with A lot of people apparently believe this … Of course, I know this score to be wrong. Then, up into the 50's. Then, as the fatigue-jacketed VVAW contingent marches by, upon obviously pre-arranged signal the lifers turn their backs on VVAW and we see a sea of brightly colored uniformed backs (asses). I used to read the the website Daily Kos, and some years ago, a group of progressive Vietnam veterans took this meme on by daring anybody to document an example of returning vets being spit on (the vets had an advantage of being familiar with the military units of the time, thus they could challenge people as to which unit they served in, etc) At Times Square there are more spitters and one older man chants while waving two flags, he chants and hoarsely, "Honor America, Honor America, Honor America". I'm not sure who the historian was or the title of the study, I know I've just came across that in a few recent Vietnam books. Another sees this and gives a command. He graduated from Notre Dame prior to being commissioned, and after his service returned to law school to cash in his educational benefits. And for the men who served in Vietnam and survived unspeakable horrors, coming home offered its own kind of trauma. It was after returning to the U.S. and while en route to the hospital that Wowwk first encountered hostility as a veteran. Let's get this straight. Dean links the idea of the forgotten, unwanted veteran in need to larger national narratives in which the war itself was seen as unwanted. This is when most stories of spitting seem to be dated to after the fact, but again, historians including Lembcke, Dean, and others tell us that it was exceedingly rare to find such reports in period archival material, which makes it hard to judge how many such incidents really took place. It's mentioned in the movie First Blood ("Rambo"): Then I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport protesting me, spitting. But denial of what we suffered dishonors us again. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. Unlike conflicts with massive demobilizations, men came back from Vietnam by themselves rather than with their units or companies. Anti-war activists had spat on troops returning from Vietnam… On 3/29/2019 4:01 PM, Byker wrote: I did not experience that. It is instead, says Lembcke, a kind of urban myth that reflects our lingering national confusion over the war." Vietnam veterans, and Congress declared 26 April 1981 to be "Vietnam I read all this garbage of no proof or photos showing anti-war protesters doing this therefore it … hands.". honoring the Vietvets by declaring a Vietnam Veterans Week. And songs and in books, but there don't seem to be any first hand accounts of it. It would take nearly 20 years after the end of the war for America to get right with its Vietnam veterans. I came home twice from over seas between 1969 and 1975 and not one person spit on me. These were the ones who were using their situation as Vietnam era vets to justify every … All of the official veterans groups have passed by, onto and up Broadway, and VVAW [Vietnam Veterans Against War] has still not been allowed by the parade officials to turn up Broadway to join the parade. Vietnam vets came home from that hell step off a plane so happy to be home and were pelted with garbage spit on called baby killers. veteran would inevitably be quoted as saying that the Vietnam veterans I had told her the stories were not true. 59-74, During the height of American participation in the Vietnam War in the Veterans returning from Vietnam were met with an institutional response marked by indifference. But the other is how flag-waving Americans hated vets for losing. She leans over the saw-horses which form the police barricade. The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American service members and wounded more than 150,000. Lembcke has published a number of articles asserting many times that this is a myth, so it is probably helpful to cite another writer on the same subject. Here is how one historian characterizes the real situation in 1969-73: Eric T. Dean Jr. "The Myth of the Troubled and Scorned Vietnam Veteran." Does any occasion where any Vietnam vet was ever spit on by anyone for any reason count, or are you specifically looking for cases where veterans were spat on in public events by protesters? The only problem, according to Jerry Lembcke, is that no such incident has ever been documented. For those unfamiliar with the phrase stab-in-the-back in the context of wars, it’s used to describe a conspiracy theory, very popular with the Nazis and usually with anti-Semitic scapegoating, that Germany didn’t lose because of military factors but instead because of sabotage on the home front. had never received such recognition before and were "finally being The Seattle parade -- early, before opinion turned bad, in atypical Seattle -- seems like the weakest possible example. Who are they to protest me? But no, it's always a story passed along from your uncle's friend's cousin who lives in the next state, and it always takes place when a … The security guards decide it's time to move out. I'd add "and by who"? Then out of the crowd comes someone who spits in the veteran's face. (Protester'sBill and Hillary actively involved with). A private group had to push hard for it. He remembered serving in Vietnam … By BOB FEIST. One gives the clenched fist sign of support as VVAW passes by. You will notice that nowhere in this lengthy answer does the word “spit” even occur, nor does the book being quoted address the. “You don’t have parades for soldiers coming home from a war they lost.”. I recall people were puzzled why we'd want one. But what are you doing in addition to saying ‘thank you’?”. Why were such anecdotes popular, and do they appropriately characterize what happened when Vietnam veterans came home? No one. Neither of the first two articles you quote from refer to veterans. and 'Baby killer!' addition, Veterans' Day on 11 November 1979, was dedicated to the For a decade, as one person was shipped off to fight, another was returning. If I were the only one to be spat upon, the score would be : not spat upon, 1,999,999, spat upon, 1. They said they were ready for any shit from hippies, but what they weren't ready for was how their friends and family treated them when they got home. Veteran Recognition Day. Spitting never happened. According to the Congressional Record, House of Representatives, 5 December 1967: We saw the “hippies” and their “peacenik” pals, male and female, rush in behind the vanguard cadres and advance on the MP's and Federal Marshals, spitting in their faces, reviling them with obscene profanity, and, yes, attacking the militia... Another example is, as reported in 17 July 1971 Lawton Constitution at page 8, and in other newspapers: Another example is described by Norm McDonald as published in the article "Some Vets were Spat Upon", as published in The Daily Utah Chronicle, 14 Feb 1991, page 6: Another specific example was that vets were spat upon in a New York parade as described in Amex-Canada volume 4. declarations, lavish parades for the Vietnam veterans, and the construction Drooling on the Vietnam Vets. I remember how young they looked, and I think of how old these spitters with their fur coats look. Literally because I saw others spat upon, and figuratively because to spit on one Vietnam veteran is to spit on them all. The vets are restless. The person who spat on me was wearing a shirt that said 'Welcome Home Baby-Killer It's mentioned in the movie First Blood ("Rambo"): Then I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport protesting me, spitting. As far as the spitting goes, most Vietnam vets I knew came home in the middle of the night and knew to go change into civvies ASAP. All Rights Reserved. Another thing to consider is whether the person claiming they were spat on means so literally or figuratively. “They were not necessarily looking for a parade, but they were certainly looking for basic human support and help in readjusting to civilian life after this really brutal war.”. "26 Similar parades For some reason the Vietnam Vets like to tell all who will listen they were spit upon. One of my veteran friends hates Jane Fonda and says that vets were spit on because of the anti-war movement that folks like Jane and others participated in. Some, like Wowwk, say they had invectives hurled their way; others, like naval officer Ford Cole, remember being spit on. Four Army men, in uniform standing on the curb, with green berets. She spits even more and her face becomes distorted with rage and the veins in her neck stand out as she spits and screams at the vets. Many veterans publicly confessed to My Lai-like incidents to provide their assent to a narrative of unwanted war with unwanted veterans. Tracy Karner, in her article "Fathers, Sons, and Vietnam" (American Studies 37.1, 1996), analyzes this from a slightly different angle, proposing that the veterans' own self-identity as men was wounded by this inability to live up to the heroic WW2 narrative, and that this often manifested itself in a new narrative of loneliness, meaninglessness, and attempts to prove oneself with dangerous activities and drinking. ***** Sorry for not keeping up with you guys. In fact, the description shows that the disapproval is directed only at that group of Veterans, and includes not only one spitting loonie, but the flag waver and many uniformed veterans (disparagingly called ‘lifers’ by the storyteller). With Vietnam, vets had to change their clothes in the bus station because people would spit on … These vets went on to have flash backs be awake for days&a lot of other side effects from having exposure to agent orange (our goverment authorized). Yes, according to Honest Dissent vs. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! It makes it sound like no one could find parades in major cities in the early 70's, when the supposed Vet-hatred would have stronger. These accounts are all basically handling essentially the same issue of veterans' experiences and memories failing to find a place in the national narrative of an unwinnable or betrayed war, as opposed to the veterans being literally welcomed home and thanked by their communities upon return from Vietnam. If one is to believe your second quote (from the Congressional Record, e.g. A 1985 parade? Lembcke remembered things differently. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Service. No one spit on the troops. He led his men on operations that lasted 30 days or more in some of Vietnam’s most inhospitable conditions, “without shaving, bathing or changing clothing. Then she spits again. “The Vietnam veterans, we couldn’t believe it. I found a number of quality employers and schools were quite happy to try assisting qualified veterans. In this episode I hope to end the urban myth that Vietnam Vets were spat upon as they returned from fighting in the Vietnam War. Dean and Lembcke are in agreement that soldiers received a warm welcome. For example, heroin use by soldiers was seen to indicate despair, although nearly all quit using heroin upon return to the US. The Vietnam War lasted from 1964-1973—the longest war in American history until it was overtaken by the one in Afghanistan—and servicemen typically did one-year tours of duty. The first American troops to be withdrawn from Vietnam (in 1969) were greeted by a parade in Seattle at which the crowd They didn’t want to be like those terrible Vietnam-era protesters, the ones who spit on returning troops. For me—and I think most others returning—we transported in a civilian airplane, that landed on a military base, which would have greatly restricted civilians from being where they could protest against us. Some, like Wowwk, say they had invectives hurled their way; others, like naval officer Ford Cole, remember being spit on. But the specter of Vietnam still lingers, and some of that war’s veterans view such acts with a wary glance. ", On 7 May 1985, 25,000 Vietnam veterans marched in a New York City “I appreciate the respect of ‘thank you’ because that was something I never received when I came home. 1960s, most accounts of the Vietnam veteran returning from the war zone Despite these warm welcomes, Dean describes that a story of Vietnam veterans as "forgotten" set in very quickly around 1971-73. While the economy after World War II was one of the most robust in American history, during and after Vietnam the nation was in a death spiral of stagflation and economic malaise. There seems too be a current meme—I see it a lot on facebook— that Vietnam vets were mistreated and spat upon when they returned. Lies! In his book The Spitting Image Jerry Lembcke claims that it's a myth and never happened, or at least not in any confirmed incident. They provide only slightly differing accounts of how the myth of being spat on developed, with Dean attributing it to the narrative of the war being unwinnable, and Lembcke more specifically citing right wing commentators' belief in a stab-in-the-back story of "betrayal at home" (a common myth which continues to be repeated by sources like PragerU on YouTube). The only ones who didn't turn were the one in wheel chairs and none of the lifers remembered to turn their wheel chairs. None of that,” he says, “prepared me for the reception at home upon our return.”. Celebrations aside, the government also failed to make good on its promises to those who served. “At a time when I was paying $300 a credit, my entire educational benefit was $126.” And when it came to finding a job, he was met with thinly veiled disgust and discrimination from law firms upon learning he was a Vietnam infantry veteran. President Carter followed the example of Presidents Nixon and Ford of ... “they were able to talk about the war. Protestors demonstrate for full benefits for all US veterans, including Vietnam War veterans in July, 1974. Bill Ray/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American service members and wounded more than 150,000. Unless they've been me and been there and know what the hell they're yelling about! 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