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Two Vietnam Vets: A Moment of Pride

I just came back from Mobile, Alabama, where I trained about 70 educators, counselors and administrators in skills of working with difficult students.

During one point of the presentation, I used a participant to demonstrate a method of communication with a student. His name was Bill; he was an assistant principal at an elementary school in the area.

To make a long story short, Bill loves to sail in Mobile Bay. He shared how, when he was discharged from the military he had been so impacted by what he had experienced in Vietnam that he decided to get away from everything and everyone for awhile. So he sailed around the world … several times.

I casually asked him his branch of service in Vietnam.

“I was Army, 101st Airborne,” he said.

I offered him my hand. “First Marines.” (I was Navy, but I lived and worked with the marines of the First Radio Battalion in DaNang.)

I think Bill and I were both surprised by what happened next. The participants began to applaud.

I know I was touched. How so different that response was to my Vietnam service than the one I often got when I first returned home. Truth is, we were often spat upon, called “baby killers,” and were considered something less than a human being. We were encouraged NOT to mention that we were Vietnam veterans or to wear our uniforms.

The applause from that group was neither anticipated nor expected, but it was certainly appreciated.

James Sutton, Psychologist


March 8, 2008 Posted by | adversity, family, Inspirational, Self-esteem | , , , , , | Leave a comment