Happy Independence Day



The high price of FREEDOM

When our youngest US President, John F. Kennedy, uttered his famous pledge that our country would “bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty,” it’s doubtful that he—or anyone else–had envisioned the true extent of the hardships our soldiers would endure during the Vietnam War.

As the costly conflict escalated, and for the first time in American history the media were allowed to dispense graphic footage of casualties to the public, the war became wildly unpopular, spawning massive demonstrations that sometimes became violent.   By the time this war ground to an unsatisfactory halt, veterans returned, not to the adulation of tickertape parades, but to scorn.

Among the thousands of young men drafted during the 1960s and ’70s and sent to the steamy, mosquito-infested jungles of Vietnam was my cousin, Randy Anderson, of Backus, Minnesota.  His return was a little bit different.

He was riding the Greyhound Bus on the last leg of his journey home from the war when the driver bypassed the hometown café where pickups and drop-offs were usually made and kept going.   A couple of miles out of town he explained to the passengers, “Folks, we’re going to take a little detour here, because we’ve got a hero on board.”

To the puzzlement of the other passengers, the driver turned his big bus onto a dusty, rolling gravel road and barreled through the countryside.  When he reached a crossroads, he turned into the yard of a small house and drove right up to the door.

To the applause of the passengers and a salute from the driver, Randy hopped off the Greyhound and into the arms of his family.

“Welcome home, soldier,” the driver said.

©Copyright, Sharon Sheppard, 2015