The Wall of Healing: Vietnam War Veteran’s Day

by Mar 21, 2022OPINIONS0 comments




The 58,267 names on the Vietnam Wall in Washington commemorate and memorialize the American warriors who died in the conflict in southeast Asia.  Many of its horrors live today in the minds and hearts of those of us who served.  Much was lost in that war in addition to the lives of our fighting men and women.

Lewis H. Harding, an EBCI tribal member who served in the United States Navy as a Naval Aviator, is shown at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla. in February 1965. During his time in the service, he received various decorations and awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. (Photo contributed)

Our national honor was dramatically impacted, and the morale of our entire military was degraded.  The historic invincibility of our armed forces was undermined by poor leadership.  From the Gulf of Tonkin to My Lai, from the Alpha strikes over Hanoi to the swift boat engagements in the Delta, political leadership failed us and caused intolerable losses.  We were infiltrated from I Corp to IV Corp with the enemy being part of the North and South Vietnamese armies.

The war was a fraud from its inception according to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s revealing book decades later.  This is powerfully significant.  Hopefully, we learned from that.  I’m not sure that we have.

What is indisputable is the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of the brothers and sisters whose names are inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall and on the headstones around the world.  And, lest we forget, there are thousands of unmarked graves of POW/MIAs.  We honor them now, and always, for their service to our country.  Their loss is our loss.  The tears of their loved ones are our tears.  May it ever be so.

God bless their memory.  As the National Wall of Healing stands silently in their honor in Washington, may the barriers in our minds toward our brothers and sisters in the family of man, God’s family, dissolve into love.

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29, we, of the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 in Cherokee, will the privileged to celebrate the end of the war in Vietnam by gathering together in the Wolfetown Community.  We will acknowledge the hard work of our Post, the Tribe, the North Carolina Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the American Legion State Commander, the Veterans Administration, and many others.  Jointly, we put together planning and actions that created a beautiful final resting place for our beloved veterans.  We are grateful for the opportunity and the help.  Come and be with us.

Harding is the commander of the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143.  He served in the Vietnam War as a naval aviator.