Last weekend I rode the Ducks in Branson, Missouri. For those of you who are familiar with Branson, the Duck Tour is one of the most popular tourist attractions there. It is fun, and a treat to hear the Captains of the amphibious vehicles as they guide you on the tour.
As we took in the area around Branson, we drove up up Bear Mountain. Partially up the mountain there is a rock clearing with old military vehicles. While driving through the site a narrative plays, explaining which war the vehicle was used in and the primary role of each of the vehicles. We saw tanks, Jeeps, and a various assortment of vehicles.
I have been on the Duck tour before, but this time it took on a special significance to me and I saw it from a new perspective. That was because my brother-in-law, Steve, is a Vietnam veteran, and he and my sister were with me on the tour. Steve was a medic in Vietnam and served mostly on the front line with the ground troops. They generally used helicopters to evacuate wounded soldiers, but as we approached the ambulance, he noted it was the type of ambulance they used in other areas.
As I thought about all he had been through and the sacrifices he and so many others gave, tears gathered in my eyes. It made my heart ache to think of how badly Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned from home. Of all the veterans who have fought in wars and conflicts, I think they were the least appreciated and most verbally abused. My brother-in-law, who is one of the most awesome men I know, was even spat upon when he returned. It wasn’t a war of his choosing, but it was extremely hurtful for him to return to home soil and see the lack of support and disrespect for those serving.
I was pleased to see that while we were on the tour the guide gave special recognition to all of those veterans who were on the Duck. As a matter of fact, in Branson, they are particularly good at recognizing all of our veterans and thanking them for their service.
Fortunately, we have learned some lessons from the Vietnam experience, and even though we may disagree with the politics involved in confrontations sometimes, we have begun to treat our veterans better. We may have a long way to go, but at least there is a greater awareness of the need to offer support to them. A new perspective. Sometimes in life, we need that.
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.
– Anaïs Nin