NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Today sorrow, the kind that comes on Memorial Day, unites two women. Their stories are different, but their grief is the same. "My husband had to go to Vietnam and we had an 18 month old daughter," reflected Barbara Smith Jinkins. "And he was in Vietnam and he was over there 16 days when he was killed," continued the 1966 German bride of a U.S. Soldier.
Not so much time has passed for Janet Buford. She shies away from interviews about her loss. " Holidays like this. Any kind of Memorial Day like that, it's tough for her," explained Candice Barton, Janet's daughter. Tough because Janet's 23 year old son, Specialist Travis Buford died two years ago in Iraq while assisting wounded soldiers.
"You've got to wonder where we get men like this," said Michael Bishop, the Vietnam veteran who organized a Memorial Day ceremony. "It's from parents like Janet Buford." the Vietnam veterans of America pay close attention to recognizing the little known details of a soldiers' life. They know what it's like not to have anything said. History clearly depicts America was wrong in how it received Vietnam veterans. The nation learned from its mistake. Today no soldier is forgotten.
The ceremonial gestures of the 21 gun salute, taps on a bugle and the singing of the national anthem are predictable, but they mean so much to the survivors. All that was missing when Barbara's husband came home in a coffin. "What they're getting today is what all of our soldiers should have gotten when they came home from Vietnam," said Jinkins. "At that point, at that time, I was glad that my husband didn't see how they (Americans) treated them." Janet recognizes the importance of accepting the Gold Star recognition at memorial services. She places a wreath for her son and in the memory of the others who didn't return. She even travels to the funerals of fallen soldiers as a Guardian Angel. And she musters up enough courage to express her gratitude publicly. "And the Vietnam veterans are making sure that these guys are honored and not shunned like they were," said Janet quietly.