While we're breathing a cautious sigh of relief that our "excursion" in Iraq has come to a close, I'm also reminded that the war continues for thousands of Vets returning, and will no doubt continue for many years to come. Not the stuff of headlines or news reports, but those day to day battles brought on by too many tours of service, not enough support, the wounds of the mind as well as body - those things that don't go away when someone says it's over and time to go home.
And Harry Truman was well aware of that, when he addressed the students at Fordham University on May 11, 1946. In the ranks of the student body were the faces of returning Vets, there as the result of benefits received from a grateful country.
Pres. Truman: “Veterans must not be penalized for their war service. Programs of this nature, though less comprehensive, were established for veterans of past wars. But today we find the beginning of a new and important concept. One which has given concrete evidence by the presence of veterans here today. That concept is that the nation must provide for its veterans something more than pensions. Something more than insurance, loans and rehabilitation. For those who wish it, the nation must also provide education.”
In contrast, the stories of neglect, mistreatment and careless disregard for our Vets today is something to consider a national disgrace. That our supposed "war heroes" in the Senate have voted against legislation ever since the Iraq War began to aid returning Veterans, for whatever reason but surely a political one, is shameful.
So while we're closing a chapter of misguided history - we can't forget the ones who were trapped in the confusion, stuck in the hard place and wrecked from the inside as well as out.
Remember there was a time it all mattered.