On this past Veterans Day, The Signal paid tribute to America’s veterans with a front page and an entire section dedicated to veterans. This is a stark contrast to condemnation of veterans upon their discharge from the military at the end of the Vietnam War. On behalf of my fellow veterans, thank you to The Signal. Clearly, this is a good indication of an appreciation and knowledge of our veterans’ history. Let’s have a Veterans’ History Month to educate our youth and communities to help assure that veterans’ experiences are never forgotten as they defended our freedoms.
Some of us have had hands-on opportunities to learn about active-duty or former military members. A Veterans History Month could spread similar learning experiences.
For example, during the 1950s, my dad would take me to the local Yakima (Washington) airport to watch the C-47s (passenger version DC-3) land and take off. Dad was a CG-4A glider pilot during World War II. His glider was towed by C-47s over the English Channel to France after D-day. During college I was a passenger in a Trans Texas Airways DC-3 on a holiday commute from Abilene, Texas, to Dallas and on to Yakima — boarding on an uphill aisle to my seat and briefly watching a typical fire billow out the rear of the twin-prop engines. These limited C-47 memories are what is hoped others can experience from books, guest lecturers, field trips, movies and other learning encounters during a Veterans History Month, ideally in November to coincide with Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Just prior to Veterans Day, I finished reading “The Forgotten 500” (by Gregory Freeman), an inspiring and riveting account of the secret mission to rescue over 500 U.S. airmen downed in Nazi-held Yugoslavia using C-47s to safely return them to Italy. A Veterans History Month could focus on similar stories for readers, so this history is never forgotten.
I was truly blessed to have such reminders during my youth. Here in the 27th Congressional District, we are very fortunate to have Rep. Mike Garcia, one of the 82 bipartisan military veterans representing us in the U.S. House. His Navy pilot combat history can help him, if he agrees, encourage his colleagues to consider supporting a Veterans History Month proposal in Congress or request that President Joe Biden decree such a month. The educational focus of this proposal differs significantly from an existing Military Appreciation Month each May.
So, let’s not forget our veterans’ experiences — let’s have a Veterans History Month.
Vietnam War medic, USAF