BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - The Fourth of July weekend ceremony at More Than Conquerors Faith Church was called "Celebrating the Blood of a Nation."
Head Pastor Steve Green said it was a time to be thankful to live in a free country and for those veterans who have shed their blood. The church wants to make sure that no one feels they've been forgotten. Their other goal is to help young people in the congregation understand the sacrifices made by our nation's military.
"Just as a citizen it means a lot and we just want to say a hearty thank you to all veterans," said Rev. Steve Green, More Than Conquerors Faith Church.
Retired Marine W. Frank Long fought in Vietnam. During the service, Long described the day he gave himself communion from his field rations and later witnessed a medical officer step on a booby trap that killed him and left the commanding officer in a coma. Long explained what it felt like to come home to a country that spit on returning soldiers and called them names like "babykiller." He also bared his soul and explained what it was like to live with the problem now called post traumatic stress disorder, before it was a widely recognized medical condition.
"Vietnam, even to this day, I can remember it as if it just happened. I picked up a book in a bookstore and it had my unit in that book, Echo 3/7 . And as I was flipping through the pages, I saw my unit and I saw the story about the battle that we were in. The next thing I knew I was back in Vietnam. It's like my body was here and I'm seeing us fighting a war in Vietnam and all I could say is it's not right, we're just kids...we're just kids. And this is 30 years after the war that this happened. So that tells me that PTSD, it will never go away. But there are treatments that we can get with our doctors to help us cope. And I think our loved ones should also be knowledgeable about it," said W. Frank Long.
Long has this advice for family of returning veterans:
"They're going to be different. Things are not going to be the same. And understand that. And respect that. Respect their privacy. They'll probably be in a shell for a while, but they want to be appreciated. But they also recognize that they have a problem, but the civilian population don't understand that problem and they want them - the civilian population- to recognize that as well and support them with it. And if they get that kind of support from the civilian population then that will make them feel better and it can help in the process of their healing," said Long.
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