I once knew a man. A man who walked my old town in dirty rags and had no house. He had horrible burn scars on his face. He washed car windows with old newspapers to try and get a little change so he could buy something to eat everyday. He used newspapers as an insulation to keep warm in the corners of the downtown courthouse so he could sleep. He had only two things I consistently saw him with… a pair of black boots and a green Vietnam Army long sleeve shirt. That man died one day from pneumonia and he was found alone in the park. He was buried a few days later and as I walked by the cemetery, I saw his casket being lowered. There was one thing I noticed… there was no one there. No one there to say goodbye. No one probably even knew he died… alone.
I am now years older and 17. I had almost forgotten about this man. I was in a debate in my class about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the same old arguments of why America should pull out or stay in the war. Then a girl and a few of her friends went up to make their argument and they referred back to Vietnam. I thought it was an appropriate argument but then I heard something I couldn’t believe. She started talking down “every soldier who ever lived,” and exclaimed that “every soldier is stupid!” I was startled, surprised, and offended. I couldn’t believe my ears. I could understand disagreeing with the reasons for war or against a specific war, but not against our soldiers. How could parents raise their kids to believe this?
Then I thought back to the protesters and soldiers of the Vietnam War. These soldiers sacrificed everything. Even their lives which is a man’s greatest possession on this earth! All for their country. A country who didn’t respect them. A country that rejected them. A country that called them foul names and threw trash at them when they returned from some of the worst conditions anyone could imagine. Fighting and dying for their country and its rights. Rights that allow them to treat them so horribly. How ironic. How disrespectful. How embarrassing…
Then I thought back to the man I remember from years ago. He sacrificed everything to his country just to be ridiculed by them. Then he wasn’t taken care of by them. A loyalty to a country that let him sink to the bottom after such an honorable duty. The so called United States of America.
I believe that every soldier sacrifices more than anyone could for their country. I believe soldiers should be taken care of. After everything they’ve done, why should they be rejected? I believe soldiers should never be ridiculed, only honored in the greatest respect. Most of all I believe “-old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” This I believe.
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