‘Strength and Honor!’ by Roger Helle

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By Roger Helle, Patriot Post, May 25, 2022

Contrary to the media and Hollywood, Vietnam had its share of legends.

In the opening scene of the movie “Gladiator” with actor Russell Crowe, the Romans are lined up for battle against the barbarian hordes. As General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Crowe) walks among the officers, they all salute by hitting their fist on their chests and saying, “Strength and honor!” It was the greeting of battle-tested Roman warriors. They conquered the known world in their day.

As the Vietnam War was getting deadly serious, my twin brother and I joined the Marine Corps. The Corps had its own warrior code. As a lover of history, I was fascinated by the Marine Corps legacy, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

Contrary to the media and Hollywood, Vietnam had its share of legends. I met a few of the recipients of the Medal of Honor who survived to be able to wear the Medal. When I was a Drill Instructor, a lieutenant who received the Medal in Vietnam only wore one ribbon on his day-to-day uniform shirt. That said everything that needed to be said of those who knew what it meant.

Unlike other wars or conflicts, Vietnam veterans received a different kind of welcome when they retuned to the U.S. Communist agitators, supported by the media, spewed their hated for those who had served. Many veterans I’ve met over the years admit to throwing their uniforms away or putting them in a closet, hidden from view. They were supposed to be “ashamed.” I was fortunate because I came home on a stretcher and spent months in the hospital. War protestors not allowed!

I was never ashamed of my time in the Marine Corps or time spent in Vietnam. Hindsight, they say, is always 20/20, and my many trips back to Vietnam have proved to me over and over again that it was not in vain.

On one trip a few years ago, we had several Vietnamese, now American citizens, on our medical team. One young woman was a doctor. Her widowed mother worked at the American embassy in Saigon. The day the country fell, she was four years old with tuberculosis when she, her mother, and three sisters were on the next-to-last helicopter to lift off the roof of the embassy.

A young man who was now a nurse also told his story: “When I was eight, the communist came to my village and began killing everyone. But the Marines came and saved my life and the lives of my family.” There was not a dry eye in the room, including mine. If these were the only ones who escaped to come to America, it would have been worth it to me and all the veterans on that team.

By my estimation, 1,304,702 American service members have given their lives to keep this nation free. Today, less that 1% of our nation is serving to keep the 99% free.

This Memorial Day weekend, enjoy it, because America’s bravest and finest paid the ultimate price so you could be free to do so. But please, pause for a moment to remember those who gave their lives so you could enjoy the blessings of Heaven!

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” —George Washington, 1790

Something to be grateful for!

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