The Longest War: We the Few. We the Last. We the History of America's Wars.
07 March 2001
America's last military campaign was fought in the Persian Gulf, slightly North of the birthplace of Mankind. America's last war was fought in Vietnam, slightly South of Mankind's second oldest historic culture.
Although never directly Declared a war by Congress, its establishment of The War Powers Act officially authorized the American Expeditionary Force in Vietnam to be on the same status as our two World War Expeditions and our United Nations contribution in Korea. Officially, the named American wars of are, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Spanish-American War, World War One, World War Two, The Korean War, and The Vietnam War.
Subsequently following Congress' undeclared recognition of the Vietnam conflict as a War came the belated recognition of America's ancestral veterans organizations, albeit far too late to assure their survival beyond the passing soon to come of the last World War Two/Korean War veteran.
There is no exact figure on how many Americans actually served in Vietnam. The official but flawed Vietnam Service Index lists 2,709,018. However, other Department of Defense rosters estimate as many as 2,903,117 Americans served in Vietnam. Somewhere between the two debated estimates are the real names of less than 3 million American sons and daughters who braved the bullets, rockets, herbicides, NCO sadism, Officer Corps neglect, political indifference... and spittle on their return.
There is great pride yet much responsibility in having served in America's last war, and quite probably, LAST war. Our individual responsibility as Vietnam War veterans dictate that we must always embody, express and exude the embodiment of every American war veteran of every era going back to our Revolution. American children today may read about the Revolutionary War soldier, watch historic moving images of World War I, II and Korean War heroism. But our children of today and for the next thirty to forty years will have only the survivors of America's last true war, Vietnam, to hear, touch and learn from what real, terrible sacrifices and sorrows are called upon to ensure continued human Freedom.
To those of you who served in Vietnam, always realize and remember that you, individually, are the last representative of every American before you who served in wartime... since the frozen days of our Revolutionary battles to the frozen days in Korea. You are the living representative of an important history that may never come again.
Just as the Medal of Honor is assigned to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to represent the courage and sacrifices of all those unnamed heroes who never forgot their responsibility to our fathers and grandfathers and their fathers who fought for Freedom, we who served in Vietnam must always carry on our rapidly aging shoulders a personal responsibility to display to all who meet us the highest of dignity and presentation that does not denigrate in any way the historic image of the American war veteran.
Very soon our World War II and Korean War survivors will pass into history. We, their children who followed them to war, are all that is left of their legacy. We are the bridge between all of humankind's greatest and most destructive struggle for Freedom and today's efforts to establish democracy where the last few tyrants remain perched on fragile thrones.
Vietnam veterans... Always Be your best. Always Show your best. Always Make our father's proud that they bore sons and daughters no less equal that their ancestors of Valley Forge.
Phill Coleman Vietnam, 1969-70