After reading the TIMES NEWS of Aug. 10 about the success of Jim Thorpe's first night out event at Memorial Hall, I had to stop and think National Night Out was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. which it did along with alone with all the political leaders and national organizations that attended it was a well planned event. From the pictures that were in the paper I would imagine hundreds attended.
On the other side of town across the street from the Immaculate Conception Church another event was taking place was slated to begin at 6 p.m. - the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War while hundreds attended the National Night Out only about 15 people attended this ceremony. Those who attended were married to or former Vietnam military members were there.
I am in no way knocking Jim Thorpe National Night Out, I'm only saying it should have started in front of the Immaculate Conception Church. The services lasted all of 30 minutes. NNO is an excellent idea and who ever started it did a good job but remember if it wasn't for the men and women in our Armed Forces there would never be a NNO.
I have served my country proudly as well as a lot of my family and a lot of other families coming from Jim Thorpe. Remembering those who have died for freedom is not something that should be taken lightly. As I watched the events unfold my friend and I both took off our baseball caps as the 13 names of the individuals from Carbon County who died were read for what reason no one from Jim Thorpe died Lansford, Palmerton, Summit Hill, and I believe Lehighton had members from their community.
Imagine the scene as a chaplain and officer coming to your door informing you that your son or daughter was killed in action. Look around you how many people on Center Street see the man in his portable wheelchair put there by agent orange, how many people know all the individuals from our are who served there? How many men and women committed suicide because they couldn't stand the pressure? What kind of drugs did the military give us before they sent us off to foreign countries?
When you enter the military you take an oath "To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic." 58,651 men and women of the Vietnam War did they died, 2220 men and women did the same they are listed as missing in action. Where are they? The Vietnam War was not our most pleasant venture, no war is, but when they came home there was no parade down Fifth Avenue. These men and women did what they were trained to do to support and defend the Constitution of the U.S. So please next time you are having an event and there is another event going on join forces. It will be a better time for all. The next time you see a vet, please give them a hug or thank them. We all would not have the freedom we enjoy if it was not for the men and women who gave up their lives for our freedom. Thank you.
Dennis J. McGinley
U.S. Navy Retired