The USA Community Chorus will salute Vietnam veterans during a Veterans Day show to be held in the Swanville School Auditorium Monday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
During the show, a script will be offered that says: “While the Korean War is known as the ‘Forgotten War,’ the Vietnam War is called the ‘Living Room War’ as television reduced the space between the battlefield and the viewer. When the media showed only the intensity and the chaos of the war with relatively little mediation, it influenced people’s attitudes about the war and eventually turned public opinion against it. Sadly, for military personnel returning from that conflict, with a lot of help from anti-war activists, it also turned public opinion against the men and women who fought in Vietnam.
“For most of this country’s history, returning veterans would be greeted with respect, if not honored with a parade or two and given a hearty ‘Job Well Done’ by a grateful nation. Not these men and women. Most of were met with toxic indifference or downright hostility. They were slighted, shafted and spat on by their own countrymen. The Vietnam War claimed the lives of more than 58,000 American service members and wounded more than 150,000. And for the men and women who served in Vietnam and survived unspeakable horrors, coming home offered its own kind of trauma.
“It would take nearly 30 years for America to begin getting right with the Vietnam Veterans. Now, America’s Vietnam veterans, once viewed with a mixture of indifference and outright hostility by their countrymen, are widely regarded as national heroes. As many of the Swanville and Upsala veterans are in their 70s, the USA Community Chorus will be giving them some of the honors they should have had 50 years ago.”
Featured on the program, in addition to songs by the USA Community Chorus, will be performances by the USA Honor Squad, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students in the Swanville and Upsala school districts, the Grey Eagle Bell Choir, songs from the 1960s sung by former U.S. Air Force “Singing Sergeants,” Thomas Speckhard and Maureen Putnam and this year’s special guest artists, the Chamber Singers from St. Cloud State University.
In addition, to provide audience members with some idea of what the Vietnam veterans service was like, there will be readings from an interview with a U.S. Navy Seal, an oral history from a U.S. Navy public affairs officer caught up in a 36-hour firefight between U.S. and Vietnamese Marines and about a regiment of North Vietnam soldiers and Viet Cong, an excerpt from the book “Thud Ridge” about the perils pilots faced flying missions over North Vietnam and a segment from Hal Moore’s and Joe Galloway’s book “We Were Soldiers Once ...And Young” about the battle in the Ia Drang Valley.
Admission is free although concert-goers will be given an opportunity to make a freewill donation to help fund activities for the USA Honor Squad.