Vietnam. When you hear that word, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
For many my age, Vietnam was a topic studied in history, but for me the first thought is my father. I am so proud to have a father that fought for our freedom, and at such a young age. At 20 years old, I was in college, studying hard and working a job I loved; my father, at 20 years old, was drafted into the war and sent to Vietnam along with millions of others. The life that my father lived while in Vietnam not only shaped his life but mine as well.
Having heard first hand from my father what it was like in Vietnam, I have a greater appreciation for historical events. His stories remind me that every historical event has personal stories within them and those stories eventually disappear with age. This has taught me the importance of talking to veterans and letting them tell their stories.
This year being the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, I challenge you to thank any Vietnam veteran you pass by because 50 years ago they were significantly underappreciated for their service to our country. Thankfully this is something that has evolved over the years, but those that endured the struggles Vietnam brought were not as lucky. So thank you! Thank you to every man and woman who has fought for our freedoms. And thank you US Army Spec-4 James R. Wende for being the best father a girl could ask for!