America's Vietnam war veterans are coming home at last. They are being made welcome in their own land after six years of too many cold shoulders and not enough warm cheers. Beyond all the necessary attention to budgets and benefits, these 2.8 million men and women deserve the simple, human assurance that their fellow citizens appreciate them, whatever the criticisms of the conflict in which they did their duty.
This appreciation has been emerging in various places. It welled up from the heartland on the weekend, and any American should be proud to echo it, whether in similar community observances or in the one-to-one round of daily life.
"There was a good turnout. They marched a pretty long distance through the city, and a lot of people applauded all along the way."
The friendly Indiana voice on the telephone was confirming what a national audience had seen on TV: a belated homecoming parade for the Vietnam vets of Anderson, Ind. The celebrations for the returning hostages from Iran had reminded Anderson that its Vietnam contingent never had received the hometown honors due them. Now here they were, some in their green berets, some striding, some limping, some in wheelchairs --wary at first, according to reports, but then moved and delighted by their reception.
As the sorting out of Vietnam lessons continues, one thing should be clear: that those who serve their country should not have to suffer for it when they come back. It's not too late to get in step wit h Anderson, Ind.