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Column: Veterans deserve hero's welcome from war

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By John Diantonio

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

I sometimes enjoy watching old movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel.

Last week, I was watching a 1943 program, and the highlight of the movie for me was the singing of “God Bless America” by Kate Smith. This song has deep meanings for me and probably most of my generation.

The mere sound of the melody inspires a deep sense of love for our country and those men and women of “the greatest generation,” who fought and died for our freedom.

One of my first memories in life was the return home of my Aunt Antoinette's fiancé.

He looked so splendid in his Army uniform, and the look of pure happiness on his face belied the hardships he must have endured during his time in combat.

Today, I look at the faces of the young men and women returning home after their tours in Afghanistan, and I see the same expression of joy that I saw on the face of my future Uncle Patsy.

Since the end of World War II we have been involved in four major conflicts — Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Our returning troops have been greeted as heroes most of the time.

During the Vietnam War, those of us who served were not greeted with any great joy. Except for our families and some right-leaning Americans, we received the proverbial “cold shoulder.”

I retired from the military in 1975, just as the war ended. I, and others who served in the Vietnam conflict, harbor no ill resentment after all these years.

We join our fellow Americans who honor our returning patriots for their service in the conflicts in which they participated.

Let us not forget the sacrifices of these young men and women.

Many of these youngsters have left parts of themselves, both mentally and physically, in the war zone. They have shown their patriotism over there.

Let us show ours over here — support them individually or through groups such as “Wounded Warrior Project.”

Let us not forget those brave man and women who gave their lives over there — let us always keep them in our prayers forever thanking them for theirs, the greatest sacrifice of all.

John Diantonio is a Plum resident. He writes occasional columns for the Plum Advance Leader.



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