Thursday, September 24, 2020

Column: Time Can Make Us Forget, But Vietnam’s Toll Remains


Have you noticed that the accumulated passage of time seems to sneak up on us, then all of a sudden, we become older than we think we are?

Now, those of us who served “in-country” — a phrase unfamiliar to those who did not — find our memory of service in Vietnam something akin to a walk through history.

I recently read a fascinating collection of data in The New York Times, by Charles Thompson of the Thompson Nelson Group, that was captivating. I share some of it below.

A statistic not included is the number of people who claim to have served in the Republic of Vietnam. That number is three or four times the 3 million who actually did.

In case you haven’t been paying attention these past few decades after you returned from Vietnam, the clock has been ticking.

“Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam,” Thompson writes, “less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age approximated to be 60 years old.”

So, if you’re alive and reading this, how does it feel to be among the last third of all U.S. veterans who served in Vietnam? I don’t know about you guys, but this gives me the chills, considering this is the kind of information I’m used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets.


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