The 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War

by Cindi SutterFounder of The Spirited Table®

Blue filled the skies last Sunday at the Fort Snelling Veterans Memorial Chapel to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Ironic isn’t it that many of these men and women came with hearts a bit blue, even after all these years, some felt they’re lives and choices could have been so different. Wars toll is different for every person. 

Closure, or a lack thereof, filled the speeches, salutes, and solitude of the moment. Generals spoke, candles were lit, songs were sung, but the statement that will resonate with me forever was - “No generation of soldiers will ever again abandon another generation.” There, it was said, the cold hard facts that some WWII veterans abandoned the next generation, because it wasn’t a glamorous or popular war and one they were never intended to win. 

The debates of the war will live forever, but the why were we there, wasn’t a choice these men and women made, it was their duty. So like many before and after them, they died, they lived for their country, all the while some were scorned upon their return.  

The Vietnam veteran that I’m married to talks about his time there very seldom, but several weeks before he simply said, I’d like to go to a Vietnam Memorial Service, I knew this was important. So on this particular Sunday, I shared a non-denominational Christian service with him devoted to all branches of the military. When we arrived we hopped a ride to the chapel with South Vietnamese men who had fought beside their American comrades. 

We all made our way to this beautiful jewel of a chapel surrounded by many empty buildings from decades past. The past, that’s why they all gathered. To remember those who had stood beside them in battle and didn’t return home, to finally hear the thank-you’s from a grateful nation. They honored each veteran who walked through the chapel door with a heart to say thank-you and a pin replica of a commemorative flag that will wave alongside the American flag, that on this particular day was at half mast. 

The service included lighting of the POW/MIA candle, ringing the Ship Bell and stories and prayers for those who were lost. They called it a Litany of Healing; and so it was. The Bagpipe Recessional lead hundreds outside to gather at the flagpole for a 21 gun salute. (I’m sorry, but the Texas girl in me just loved this part).

So the next time you see old glory wave, or hear about a homeless vet be them from Vietnam or the Middle East, stop and say thank-you. Many of them never heard it the first time around but we’ve got a second chance; isn’t that what redemption is all about? 

So on this Sunday, one week after the 50 year anniversary of the initiation of the Vietnam war; see there it is again, a reminder, that I can’t call it a Declaration of War or we were bombed on x day and that’s the bottom line. So just be grateful for our freedom and those who’ve provided us with a way of life unparalleled throughout the world.