One of the earliest memories I have of my childhood found me sitting on my tricycle in the front yard of our home in Covington, Ky., sometime around 1947. Why do I remember this day? I was watching a parade of troops returning from World War II. I didn’t know or understand just what I was witnessing that day but the flag waving and the cheers going out from the crowd stirred something in me that has never left.
As I grew older I learned in school just what WWI and WWII were all about, defeating the evils of the world and keeping our great nation free.
When I was about eight or nine, our young men marched off once more to defeat the evil in Korea and keep our nation free. I so admired these men. I wanted to be just like them.
Each day at school, we would stand at attention, salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance. We all felt proud, we stood taller, we were a part of the greatest country the world had ever known.
Then around 1963, as a high school senior, I began to hear of yet another place in the world were communism had raised its ugly head, Vietnam. I thought, it’s my generation’s time to step up. I wasn’t sure of my future and was lacking in self-confidence and displine but I thought, can I become a Marine?
Marine Veteran Edward L. Stutler
By the fall of 1966, I found myself in a place called Chu Lai, South Vietnam. The Marines had just landed there and were going to build a base camp. Here I was, a Marine, and for the first time in my life, feeling a part of something much bigger than I.
When I returned home, there were no parades, no flags waving, no cheers. What had happened to my country while I was away? I could not believe what I was witnessing. Our nation was divided like I would have never dreamed. The media had become political and, driven of the need for sensationalism, fired up some in the country to believe we should not be in this war. History has proven them wrong.
So today Veterans Day is very special. I not only remember the buddies and friends I lost in Vietnam, but those that went on before from WWI, WWII, Korea and many other conflicts as well as those lost in the recent conflicts in the Middle East and the ones still fighting every day to end the evil in the world.
At the Wall
I believe every day should be Veterans Day. We should salute and cheer for those returning from the battles of today. They should not be treated as were the Vietnam Veterans. They should be celebrated for their sacrifice
I believe every day should be Flag Day. Everyone should fly the flag at home and at offices. Every day we should thank a Veteran.
Veterans Day means being grateful, being a part of, love of county, love of flag, love of God.
About the author: Edward L. Stutler USMC – Vietnam Veteran – Commandant: Anderson -Jordan detachment of the Marine Corps League of Northern Mississippi. VAVS Representative for the Marine Corps League at the VA Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.