It is a promise born of the pain endured by Vietnam veterans who felt abandoned – not just by a nation insulated from their experience, but worse, abandoned by previous generations of veterans that many of the Vietnam generation looked up to as role models and heroes.
In some cases, it went even deeper than that.
When Rice came out of a hospital after being severely wounded as a young company commander in Vietnam, he thought he could turn to his church for solace and received a gut-wrenching and embarrassing wake-up call in front of the whole congregation.
“One of the things that cemented my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and my survivor guilt after getting out of the hospital was an experience at a church,” Rice told The Leaf-Chronicle. “I walked in wearing my dress blues, very proud, still using two canes at the time. And a mealy-mouthed, long-haired preacher announced that the Lord looks very unfavorably on baby killers.
“He did that during the sermon, in front of my family, my son, who didn’t know what was going on. I felt, not only have I been rejected by the people of the country; now I’m being rejected by God.”