The Nov. 12, 2011, edition of The Daily Bee featured a picture of me at a Veterans Day service with the caption, “Harvey Pine reflects.” Many commented that it was a great picture and my compliments to the Bee staff for doing a great job of capturing the moment.
So what are my reflections? I have been celebrating Nov. 11 since I was a child. My first services were in grammar school and they represented the values of my community.
My participation has little to do with veteran’s status.
The services included prayers for the soldiers who did not come home. Speeches talked of peace and a hope that children like me would never be veterans. We were all proud of the military for defeating evil, but now was a time of peace and prosperity.
When World War II started, most Germans cheered their early success and enthusiasm for war was considered patriotic. But after the defeat at Stalingrad, some started to wonder if the war was such a good idea.
After the war, when the atrocities came to light, it was hard to find a German who claimed they had supported the war all the way.
At the start of the Vietnam War, most Americans supported the war effort as a patriotic duty.
I remember when Wayne Morris, a famous Oregon senator, lost an election because he was against the war. It was embarrassing for citizens of Oregon to have a senator labeled “unpatriotic.”
As the war progressed with many Americans paying the price, some started to wonder if this war was such a good idea. When the war ended and the atrocities came to light, it was harder to find an American who claimed support for the war all the way.
We Americans are a diverse group and there were some who could not accept defeat. When the North Vietnamese Army marched south, some wanted to fight the war again.
I remember President Gerald Ford’s famous words, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.” Ford made it clear he did not want a rematch!
After the war, nobody ever insulted my veteran status or made any negative remark to me. Most Americans wanted to forget what this great nation had tried to do for the people of Vietnam. I felt the same way.
I did not care to have anything to do with any veteran or military-type group. But we mellow with time and I realize that I personally never did anything to be ashamed of. The military was good to me.
My training lead to a career and education benefits lead to my credentials. I am now enjoying a great retirement. This beautiful gal who fell in love with my uniform is still my wife.
I am an alumnus of the system rather than a veteran.
Many have claimed that if not for the “peacenicks,” we could still have troops in Vietnam. That is true.
Vietnam never had the ability to defeat the U.S. Army. The war ended because brave Americans forced our government to end it. Over 50,000 died in vain in Vietnam, but the few who died while fighting to stop the war should be considered heroes.
My strongest reflection and thoughts are for the brave people who fought against the war. They proved what great citizens we have. They are much braver than me and it’s time to honor them during the Nov. 11 services.
These brave citizens demonstrated the value of our freedom.
• Harvey Pine is a local veteran