I got out of bed Sunday morning and realized that I didn't have any desire to march in the Military Appreciation Day parade at the Minnesota State Fair on Aug. 27.

The parade is to honor Vietnam veterans or Vietnam era veterans. I am not sure. Now, apparently we are all grouped together whether we went to the actual war or not. I would not be true to my beliefs if I took part in such an event. I am glad I came to my senses before it was too late.

I thought getting some free tickets to the fair would be a nice treat to surprise my wife. We haven't been to the fair in years. I imagined it would be a few old guys in black Vietnam veterans' baseball caps trying to walk five blocks in some type of odd formation. I saw the news the other day that more than 1,000 Vietnam type veterans would be marching. I didn't realize there were that many still alive in Minnesota to parade around.

If it's one of these "Thank You for Your Service" events, I will be marching to my own drummer somewhere else and not at the State Fair. I am sure the folks putting on the event mean well but I wish they would take time to reflect on how the war in Vietnam screwed up so many lives. The USA sent troops halfway around the world to kill people who never meant me or my country any harm.

Do the good people holding the parade really want to honor me and other Vietnam veterans for that miserable war. I hope not. It is not service I am proud of.

Vietnam veterans used to be greeted with "Welcome Home." But did I really ever come home? I found it hard and still find it hard to be at home in a nation that learned so little from the Vietnam debacle.

The Pentagon has launched a decade long of Vietnam War commemoration. "A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You." How about hiring some more doctors at the VA to see the increased patient load from Iraq, Afghanistan and the old Vietnam veterans just discovering PTSD and Agent Orange benefits?

The military today is volunteer. And as I was once told by a wise person..."Never volunteer!" I feel that I would be a propaganda tool if I marched the parade.

Some veterans need a parade to feel good about their service and not forgotten.

I often wonder if all this military appreciation and love of the troops is just part of hiding the truth of the consequences of our military misadventures in order to keep filling the ranks of the armed services with the expendable youth of America.

Most Vietnam veterans I have known over the past 25 years have either killed themselves or have died prematurely from diseases caused by Agent Orange.

A parade just doesn't do it for me anymore.

Tim Connelly