Mixed emotions were in the air as folks gathered at the courthouse for the Culpeper Minute Men chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution’s Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony on March 29.
It was a day to honor those who served the country while some veterans present simultaneously recognized that perhaps they were misled into believing the fight was for a just cause.
Charles Jameson, Culpeper Minute Men’s president and Vietnam veteran, explained that it was a wonderful day with great weather to pay respect to those who served in the war.
Jameson was drafted into the Army just three weeks before graduating from college in 1970. He served in the 11th Armored Cavalry, the 1st Infantry Brigade and the 101st Airborne Airlifted Artillery.
While it is important to honor those who sacrificed on behalf of their country, Jameson explained he and many other Vietnam Veterans are not quite as proud of their service as they once were.
He recalled being told that opposing troops' bodies were piled up after being gunned down “and afterward we would be cheering because we had done our job.”
“Sometimes your opinions of things change through life when you educate yourself and you learn a little bit more,” he said.
Now, Jameson said he realizes “that maybe we weren’t totally correct” as it was a “half-hearted war” and “we weren’t there to win it.”
“We thought we were doing what was right and we did what our country asked us to do,” he said. “But now it feels a little different for some of us...we didn’t have a mission to complete.”
Regardless of whether the war should have ever been fought, he said it is important to honor the veterans as many of them were spat on and derided for their service upon returning home.
“It was a time to celebrate these Vietnam veterans...And realize we did what our country asked us to do,” Jameson said.