Vietnam veterans come together in Anderson to share experiences

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 11:06 PM EDT
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ANDERSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - More than 50,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War, and those who made it back home did so with little to no thanks.

“Our country turned their back on us,” said Vietnam Veteran Jesse Taylor.

It’s been more than 50 years since Taylor went to war.

“You couldn’t comprehend it,” he said.

Taylor was one of seven Vietnam veterans who told their story for a symposium hosted by the Anderson County Museum, Semper Fi Barn, and Vets Helping Vets Anderson.

“This is the first time in 54 years I personally have ever spoken about my experiences in Vietnam,” said Taylor.

The panel gave those in the audience a chance to get a perspective on the war from those who lived it.

“What the veterans went through 50 years ago. Some were drafted, some volunteered, but they all went. The cost and the price that they paid for it,” explained Semper Fi Barn Co-Founder Tom Von Kaenel.

“They weren’t greeted, they weren’t treated like the heroes they truly were. It was almost like they were shunned, and that sticks out in my mind more than anything,” said Anderson County Museum Executive Director Beverly Childs.

It was a war those who fought in it went to because they were told it would stop communism.

“If you go to war, go to win it. Not to go there to lose men, young men,” said Taylor.

Taylor says he was looking forward to sharing his story.

“I would like people to accept me and who these men are as themselves. I’m not asking, we’re not asking, for any favors. Just accept us and let us live our lives,” he said.

The hope is to have similar symposiums with other Vietnam veterans in different counties across the Upstate in the future.