Monday, November 09, 2009

Cold War veterans deserve medal

By Master Sgt. Thomas A. Vance, U.S. Air Force (retired) • November 9, 2009

On Nov. 9, 1989, large crowds gathered in Berlin on either side of the line separating democracy from communism, demonstrating and celebrating as the Berlin Wall, "came a tumblin' down." A 44-year struggle that encompassed two wars and countless small engagements and confrontations was finally at an end. The long contest between the authoritarian Soviet Union and the free people of the world that had cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars in treasure ended not with a bang, but with a whimper and a muted sigh of relief. No parades, no fanfare, just a quiet, "Well I'm glad that's over. What's next?" sort of feeling.


The United States issued a flimsy thank-you called a "Cold War Certificate" signed not by the president but by the secretary of defense and issued to anyone who served during the Cold War, and that was that.

This shamelessly inadequate treatment of those who brought us victory has left many who fought and sacrificed, and the families of those who gave their lives, wondering if the United States government and the American people are really aware and appreciate the enormity of the victory they had achieved.

A halfhearted attempt was mounted to issue a "Cold War Victory Medal" to recognize the sacrifice of Cold War veterans, but that effort has languished. Excuses like costs being prohibitive or Congress being busy with other things are not only ridiculous but an embarrassment.

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and victory in the Cold War, it is time for Congress to recognize the sacrifice of all the veterans of the Cold War by authorizing a Cold War Victory Medal as a serious and respectable tribute to the greatness of their victory.

Veterans Day events