McALLEN, March 28 - More communities than ever, since State Representative Wayne Smith and I passed Senate Bill 1903, establishing March 29 as Texas Vietnam Veterans' Day, are joining in a memorial that is very personal to me.
The Vietnam War is still our country's longest military conflict. Approximately 58,000 Americans gave their lives in the conflict. More than 3 million served in Southeast Asia. Some 304,000 were wounded. Many still live with the scars of war, and some never came home.
On March 29, 1973, the last of America's service personnel left Vietnam. Nearly 40 years have passed, and we continue to heal. In community. With our families. And personally.
I have written several pieces over the years on Vietnam. I welcome the opportunity to speak about my service and my experiences as Marine in Southeast Asia. Sometimes I wonder if I have any unique insights to add to the Vietnam War discussion.
And then it occurs to me that continued reflection is precisely why we continue the dialogue. In talking about the sacrifices of American soldiers in any theater of combat, we continue to reflect on those experiences. As long as our brothers and sisters in arms are spoken of, the flame of their memory continues to burn.
Take time, you veterans, families of veterans, Texans - everyone - to reflect on this day what Vietnam meant to you personally. What it meant to our country. What it meant during those years in the past and what it means today. And what it will mean tomorrow.
And I ask you to share with a gift to the Texas Capitol Vietnam Monument effort. The monument project is made possible by private donations. To learn more about how you can help keep the memory flame burning, go to www.buildthemonument.org.
Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa is Texas state senator for District 20. A Democrat, he resides in McAllen.