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Wayne Lutz

Mr. Lutz is the editor-in chief of The Tocquevillian magazine. He is also a freelance journalist and editor, and has written extensively on Veteran's issues.

Lutz is a ten year veteran of the Army and founder of three veteran support organizations. In his spare time he helps old ladies cross the street and is kind to children and puppies - habits which, admittedly, belie his unusual appearance.

Mr. Lutz is available to conservative and veteran organizations and events for speaking engagements, and may be reached at eic @



by Wayne Lutz

It was 23 degrees and the sun was just coming up when a group of old soldiers mounted their motorcycles and headed out. Another member of the “Greatest Generation” had passed on after a long and remarkable life, and it was the Vietnam Vets who were there to ensure that he did not go out on his final ride alone. They are passing quickly now, and these funeral rides are coming more frequently. On winter days like this riding is cold. Heated gear helps, but usually not much. It's cold. And it's hard.

Of course, standing in the cold or heat for a few hours is not comparable to storming a beach on D-Day, or climbing the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, or freezing in a foxhole in Bastogne. The Vietnam Vets will always honor that heroic sacrifice, and will always go to that funeral when asked. For a Vietnam Vet, standing in the cold or riding a hot Harley in the summer heat for a few hours to honor a passing veteran of is not much to ask. It's what Vietnam Vets do.

When the soldiers and sailors came home after WWII they were revered. They received ticker tape parades; they were kissing the girls on the docks. Big cities and small rural towns were festooned with red, white and blue to welcome their sons and fathers and husbands home.

After the war, life in America was good. FDR signed into law legislation that was “propelling an entire generation along an ascending curve of achievement and affluence that their parents could not have dreamed.”

The GI bill changed lives of the returning vets and the face of the country. Before the war, less than five percent of college age people got a college education. At its peak in 1947 veterans accounted for almost half of college enrolment.

The economy was booming. FDR expanded benefits for veterans returning from war. The Greatest Generation received “generous unemployment insurance, job counseling and enhanced medical care, as well as guaranteed low-cost loans for buying homes and farms and covering business costs.”

“Lack of money,” said Roosevelt, “should not prevent ay veteran of this war from equipping himself for the most useful employment for which his aptitude and willingness qualify him…I believe the Nation is morally obligated to provide this training and education and the necessary financial assistance by which they can be secured.”

It was Tom Brokaw who coined the term “Greatest Generation,” arguing that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was “the right thing to do.”

Just one problem – what they did after the war was not the right thing to do. Far from it.

After the war the veterans of WWII turned their backs on the vets who came after them. Vietnam Vets who joined veteran organizations were shunned. In the minds of the WWII vets their war was the only war that mattered. They fought bravely, they went into battle aware of the danger, but they ignored those who came after them. They did not see the Vietnam War as a “real” war. Really? Tell that to the more than 58,000 American boys who died.

In the HBO series “Band of Brothers,” one WWII veteran is seen saying about “his” war, “We was attacked. It wasn't like Koreer or Vietnam. We was attacked.” As if dying in the service of one's country only counts if one was “attacked.”

Not only were the Vietnam Vets not welcomed home like the “Greatest Generation” was, but quite the opposite – they were actively despised. They were called “baby killers,” yes that is true. They were spat upon, yes that is true. They were warned by their officers not to wear the uniform when travelling in order to avoid being maligned – or worse.

In the days of “Love and Peace” in the 60's and 70's, it is easy to see how traitors like Jane Fonda or liars like John Kerry could do and say the things they did and said about the Vietnam Vets. What is not so easy to understand is the behavior of fellow veterans – the WWII “Greatest Generation” who abandoned those who came after them. The Vietnam Vets needed support – if not from their country then at least from fellow vets. They did not get that support.

David Bellavia is an American Iraq War veteran who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah. (Bellavia has also received the Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. He has also been nominated for the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.)

Bellavia told attendees at The American Legion's 95th national convention that he believes the greatest generation is those who fought for their country and never received the proper welcome home. “I think the greatest generation is an 18-year-old kid, who can't even spell the country he was drafted to serve in,” Bellavia said. “I think the greatest generation is a young man who instead of being homecoming king, he was told to go fight a war overseas that he didn't ask for, he didn't vote for. The greatest generation would turn on the radio and be told that they were baby killers by popular culture. They were told by Hollywood that they were ignorant and a fool for doing what their country asked of them. In my opinion, the greatest generation was a generation that stood shoulder to shoulder and protected Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from the same unwashed ignorant classes that choose to put the soldier behind the foreign policy. The greatest generation is a generation of veterans who were treated with dishonor and shame and made sure that their sons and daughters would never be treated like they were treated.”

And that is what makes the Vietnam Vets the true Greatest Generation. They don't whine about the way they were treated, they don't demand “change,” they don't expect a belated Welcome Home. Instead, and despite the contempt with which they were treated, both by the popular culture and by the previous generation of vets, they vow that no generation of vets will be treated the way they were treated – and that includes the WWII vets, the very veterans who shunned them.

It's the Vietnam Vets who stand at the funerals of WWII vets to honor their service. It's the Vietnam Vets who rally to hold rousing welcome homes for today's military. It's the Vietnam Vets who work to help homeless vets of all generations. It's the Vietnam Vets who go into schools to give presentations to the kids to ensure that their story of the importance and the history of all veterans is known.

But above all else, it is the Vietnam Vets who vow that “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

The temperature had reached a balmy 38 degrees by the end of the funeral. The Vietnam Vets rolled up their American flags, packed them into their saddle bags and mounted their bikes for the cold ride home. Another member of the “Greatest Generation” was buried with full military honors. Most of his family and friends had long since passed, but rather than having no one there to mark his passing, he had the company of a bunch of old soldiers on motorcycles, the Vietnam Vets. That they were able to forget the manner in which they had been ignored by his generation, that they were able to put that aside for the sake of his sacrifice to his nation, makes them, the Vietnam Vets, the true Greatest Generation.


Additional Reading:


Vietnam veterans--the greatest generation of vets,

Stanford Historian David Kennedy,


“FDR”, Jean Edward Smith, p. 585,


David Bellavia,