Homecoming - Day 2 
Posted by : berben2 on Aug 12, 2001 - 11:19 PM
Vietnam War 
Second day home.
Spent the day visiting family friends and relatives (including in-laws, shudder ). They made me feel pretty welcome (lots of WW2 vets). Glad to see me -- thanked me for my service, etc.
Called my best friend up and we made arrangements to meet for a drink that night. Thought it would be a time of joy, of celebration. It wasn't.
Went to the tavern that the old gang hung out at. Things had changed. Probably a lot just from the process of growing up and having been separated from each other for about two years (in most cases). But some of it was due to our differing feelings about the war, what was going on in our nation at the time. Most of them were obviously uncomfortable but polite. But a few of them were looking for an argument (fair enough, it was a bar in Northern Idaho after all).
My best friend took off (had to go to work in the morning while I didn't have anything to do until it was time to leave for Benning for my last year of active duty). A guy named Ken -- more than an acquaintance but not a close friend -- picked an argument with me. Don't remember what it was about but I do know he questioned my credentials.
[sidebar] Some of you have probably experienced the same thing. You say something someone disagrees with and they start denigrating your service (whether or not they served themselves).
I had brought some of my medals along to show people (naive I know but why should I believe my reception by my peer group would be any different than the one I had with the older generation earlier in the day). Hadn't shown the medals around at the tavern because of the general feeling of unease that hung in the air.
I pulled out a purple heart to show to Ken. Held it in my left hand. He looked at it, said something to the effect that I hadn't got that for him, and spit on it.
I'm not sure why I didn't just paste him. Stunned I suppose. His buddy Randy must have been more sober than Ken since he drug Ken out of the bar. But I was in no mood to hurt anyone, not even angry about it now (though sometimes I am). Just sick inside.
Went to the restroom and washed up. Went home.
B 2/503d 173d Abn Bde (SEP)
Note: by Craig E. Thompson