APPLETON, Wisc. – Veterans from the Vietnam era in this mid-size town saw the crowd of people gathered at the annual Memorial Day Parade and remembered how differently they were treated after the war.
Appleton native Guy Martinek was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam war, but he says he saw people upset with the war first hand.
“I had to take off my uniform when I flew back,” he said, “because people would spit on it.”
John Bennett, who was at the parade with Martinek, was a college student during the Vietnam era.
“I had friends who were vets,” he said, “and it was like they tried to keep quiet about it, they didn’t want people to know.”
It was a bitter memory, but for one Vietnam veteran from Appleton, the stories were much more vivid.
“I come to all the parades and I still get choked up,” said a Vietnam veteran who agreed to share his personal story but wished to stay anonymous.
He looked away in the distance and his lips trembled as he took a long pause.
“We killed women, children, elderly… but people [back home] didn’t know that women, children and these people were killing us as well,” he said
They all agreed it’s a better time now for veterans now than after Vietnam, but they all also agreed it’s not enough. They say there’s still a lot of room to increase support and understanding for the troops.