Vietnam Veterans Visit Dakota Ridge

Approximately 2,700,000 Americans served in the Vietnam War.

Approximately 2,700,000 Americans served in the Vietnam War.

Payton Tanner, Staff Writer

Four Vietnam veterans recently paid a visit to the Dakota Ridge sophomore history classes. In light of what the sophomores have been learning in history about the Vietnam War, these veterans were able to provide the students with a first hand account of what happened to them during that conflict. For many students, it is hard to put a face on history and remember that the things they are learning happened to real people, so this experience allows students to better understand and empathize with those who served in the Vietnam War. 

The veterans visited DRHS on the 18th-22nd of April.   This was the first time they have been able to visit in the past two years due to the COVID 19 pandemic. These veterans had a unique experience after they served because public opinion on the war was negative, as many people did not believe it was America’s job to get involved in the war. This caused them to not get some of the recognition they deserved for their service, but now veterans of the Vietnam War are finally receiving that thanks.

Many of the veterans came into the presentation wearing shirts, vests, and hats with symbols displaying that they had served in Vietnam. They said that they did not really feel comfortable wearing some of the clothes that showed they served in Vietnam until recently because they feared some of the public’s reactions. 

“I have people thanking me every single day, and at the same time, when they thank me, I thank them back for mentioning that.  At least from my experience, and I think a lot of us will say that, if they know we’re veterans, we get thanked a lot. I know I do,” veteran Steve Newton said. 

To honor the memory of the fallen soldiers in Vietnam as well as display the significance of the Vietnam War, there is a wall in Washington DC. (Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash)

The Vietnam War started in 1955 and lasted until 1975, making it the second longest war the U.S. has ever been involved in. A total of 58,220 Americans died in Vietnam, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is located in Washington DC. During the war there was a draft, so even if Americans did not want to go to war, they either had to go or evade the draft, resulting in consequences. 

Although the war took place many years ago, people are still affected. Most everyone knows somebody who served in the Vietnam War, and some of those who served suffered health issues as a result—this is the first war that led to scientists coining the term PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). 

“The most important thing I took away from the war was the fragility of life because there are 58 thousand names that are on the wall, and the youngest person to die was 15 years old,” veteran Jim Higgins said.