America's best; time to say so

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Recognition for Vietnam service was long overdue.

THERE WERE PLENTY of reasons the Vietnam War was controversial and highly unpopular in America.

But there were never good reasons for disrespecting the individuals in uniform who answered their nation's call and served the country during the Vietnam era. Yet disrespected they were, becoming the visible targets for other contemporary Americans who believed this country was in the wrong in Southeast Asia.

Such political differences are what makes America a free nation. In this country citizens are sovereign, and through the Founders' wisdom have the constitutional right to dissent and press the government to change policies. America has learned the hard way that fighting wars without the consent and approval of the people is a recipe for disaster.

NEVERTHELESS, HUNDREDS of thousands ably and honorably served during the Vietnam era and did not deserve to become political casualties when they returned home.

Some 50 years later, during a moving ceremony July 4 at Beloit's Riverside Park, around 150 Vietnam veterans and Gold Star families were recognized with a special "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans" event. There were many moist eyes, in the crowd, and among the veterans.

It was long overdue, and Beloiters should be proud that it happened here - a community trying to set things right for the sons and daughters who bore the burden of war.

The political questions and issues were not their questions and issues. They served America, just like their counterparts in the Revolution, or World War II, or Korea, or any other conflict. They are America's best, and it was high time to say so.

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