By GIB SEEGERT
In April of this year, John Fedyszyn wrote an article on myself in the veterans profile section in the OBSERVER. Disclosing details about myself, job description and my experiences in Vietnam after 40-plus years was an endeavor in and of itself.
John's own personal experiences, combined with his knowledge and writing skills, contributed to the realities of war and the sensitive issues of graves registration.
The feedback I received from this article was overwhelming. Phone calls, letters, even sincere hugs from individuals made for a "Welcome Home" I never expected. If only every Vietnam vet could experience this natural high I felt.
I attended a Memorial Day service this year in the village park with a different attitude and perspective. I stood in the rain on a dismal Friday morning visiting the Vietnam Memorial "Wall" at the Eden American Legion in a very emotional, but calm, state. As I stared at all the names on that wall, I could feel a sensation from my Marine brothers I cared for, but I could not remember a single name.
At the closing of my profile in the OBSERVER, I stated to the writer I have been at peace with myself for the last five years. I sometimes question that statement.
I was browsing through a clothing store this summer and returned a beautiful golf shirt to the rack because it stated in a bold label: "Made in Vietnam." If I felt a surge of anger and anxiety, I thought, what emotions would have prevailed in a family member of one of the names on the "Wall" who reached for an item of that nature? I also wonder how many veterans lost their jobs in the textile industry as seven million positions went overseas in the past few years.
I read an article in the latest VFW magazine stating Congress allocated $110 million to Vietnam to cleanse some of the contaminated soil from Agent Orange. Would it not be feasible to put that money toward recovery efforts for our 1,400 Americans still MIA in southeast Asia? Maybe even compensation to the families of deceased veterans who died at an early age from the defoliant sprayed on us during the war?
I fly my flag in my yard with honor and for which it stands. As for my feelings toward my government and Congressional officials, my distrust and disrespect has not changed since the day I returned home from Vietnam and joined the anti-war movement at Fredonia State campus.
Looking for a reprieve, Washington? Bring our troops home now!
Gib Seegert, U.S. Marine Corps, is a Silver Creek resident.