There have been many comparisons drawn between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam war; both have been unpopular wars in the eyes of the American people, both President Johnson and President Bush suffered from low approval ratings because of their respective wars, and it took the Democratic party having the majority of both houses of Congress to declare an end to US involvement and bring our troops home.
Now that President Barack Obama has set a date of August 2010 for U.S. troops to all be withdrawn from Iraq, Americans shouldn't make the same mistakes we did when the troops returned from Vietnam. Unfortunately, when troops returned from Vietnam, they were spit upon by the American people and humiliated for the role they played in the war even though many were drafted and were just following orders. Even though we are all feeling the effects of a poor economy, let's also not forget about our troops in Iraq and show them when they return that American citizens have learned from their past mistakes and welcome them home with the fanfare and honor they deserve.
To keep prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Vietnam War in our hearts and minds, we wore POW/MIA bracelets with the name of a serviceman engraved on them. I had a Vietnam POW bracelet, and I can remember watching the TV broadcast of the soldiers coming off the planes during Operation Homecoming in 1973 hoping that the soldier whose name was on my bracelet, would be the next guy to exit. I propose we do something similar for the returning troops from Iraq and all wear Until They All Come Home bracelets.
As opposed to what Americans did after the Vietnam war, let's show our brave men and women, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who fought in Iraq that the sacrifices they have made for our continued safety have been appreciated. When they return, it will be a symbol for them to know that their friends, family members and the American people stand firmly together in support of their efforts, and are proud of the job they have done to remove Iraq's dictator and bring peace to the country.